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18.01.2005 Crime & Punishment

I didn't take part in any discussion on GREL's divestiture - Ayittey

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Accra, Jan. 18, GNA - An accused person in the Ghana Rubber Estates Limited (GREL) divestiture case told an Accra Fast Track Court on Tuesday that she never participated in any meeting of the Divestiture Implementation Committee (DIC) Board that discussed GREL's privatisation.

Giving her evidence-in-chief, Hanny Sherry Ayittey, Treasurer of the 31st December Women's Movement (DWM), told the Court that at the 37th Regular Meeting of the DIC, which she attended, members did not discuss anything in respect of GREL's privatisation.

Ayittey, who is standing trial on corruption charges in connection with the divestiture process, told the Court that between January 1998 and October 1998, she was invited by the then Executive Secretary of the DIC Board to three of the Board's meetings.

She said in spite of those three invitations to the 37th and 38th Regular Meetings and an Emergency Meeting, she could honour only the invitation to the 37th Regular Meeting.

Ayittey is being tried with Emmanuel Amuzu Agbodo, former Executive Secretary of the DIC and Ralph Casely-Hayford, a Businessman. They are alleged to have used their positions to influence the DIC Board to divest GREL in favour of French Company called Societ=E9 Industrielle Plantation Hevea (SIPH).

All the accused persons have denied charges brought against them and Mr Justice J. C. Amonoo-Monney, an Appeal Court Judge hearing the case as a High Court Judge, has admitted them to bail in their own recognisance.

Mr David Lamptey is counsel for Ayittey while Mr John-Hanson Senoo and Mr Tony Lithur are jointly defending Agbodo with Mr Rodney Heward-Mills representing Casely-Hayford.

Led by Counsel while she continued with her evidence-in-chief, Ayittey denied ever exercising any control or influence over Members of the DIC Board.

Touching on the divestiture programme of GREL, she said the entire process began with the opening of bids through advertisement, adding that she was not even present when bids for the Company's privatisation were opened.

Ayittey said a Technical Negotiating Committee handled other aspects of the divestiture process and she did not even know those, who constituted the Committee.

The Committee, she stated, finally presented its report to the DIC Board, and she denied having exerted any control on the Committee's Report.

In answer to a suggestion by counsel, Ayittey denied ever demanding monies for either herself as a personal gift or for the 31st DWM from Dr Albert Owusu-Banarfo, a Prosecution Witness.

She told the Court that she never took any money from Dr Owusu-Banarfo to influence members of the DIC Board to give GREL's bid to SIPH.

Asked by Counsel whether she met Dr Owusu-Banarfo in 1994, Ayittey told the Court that she did not meet him in that whole year, and that she met him for the first time sometime in March the following year. Further hearing of the case has been adjourned to Monday, January 24, for Ayittey to close her defence.

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