25.01.2005 Crime & Punishment

I never influenced decisions of DIC Board - Ayittey

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Accra, Jan. 25, GNA - Hanny Sherry Ayittey, Treasurer of the 31st December Women's Movement on Tuesday told an Accra Fast Track Court that she never influenced any decision of the Board of the Divestiture Implementation Committee (DIC) in respect of the privatisation of the Ghana Rubber Estates Limited (GREL).

Giving evidence under cross-examination by the Prosecution, Ayittey, who is being tried with two others in the GREL divestiture case at the Court, said she was not capable of influencing members of the DIC Board in the performance of their duties.

She is standing trial together with Emmanuel Amuzu Agbodo, Former Executive Secretary of the DIC, and Ralph Casely-Hayford, Businessman, on charges of corruption.

They are alleged to have used their respective positions to influence the DIC Board to divest GREL in favour of French Company known as Societe Industrielle Plantation Hevea (SIPH).

All three have pleaded not guilty to their individual charges, and the trial judge, Mr Justice J. C. Amonoo-Monney, Appeal Court Judge handling the case as an additional High Court Judge, has granted each of them a self-recognisance bail.

Mr David Lamptey is Counsel for Ayittey, while Mr John-Hanson Senoo and Tony Lithur are jointly representing Agbodo with Casely-Hayford having Rodney Heward-Mills as his Counsel.

Mr Osafo Sampong, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), is representing the State.

Continuing with her evidence under cross-examination by the DPP, Ayittey denied having worked for the DIC at any point in time. Ayittey told the Court that she was appointed as a co-opted member of the DIC in July 1995 and she only attended committee meetings on specific matters through invitations from the Executive Secretary.

"Members of the DIC are all honourable men, and I never ever influenced them in their decisions", Ayittey said in answer to a suggestion by the DPP that she was capable of influencing decisions of the DIC.

Asked by the DPP how she became a member of the 31st December Women's Movement (DWM), Ayittey replied that she was appointed by the Movement's National President, and endorsed by the Executive Body. She expressed utter surprise at a letter tended in evidence by the DPP, which he said was addressed to her by the then Acting Chief Director of the Ministry of Finance, Mr I. B. Eshun.

After reading the letter in Court, Ayittey denied having received it from Mr Eshun as alleged by the DPP, and reiterated that she never became a member of the DIC Board until July 1995.

"I never received the letter and never wrote any acceptance letter", Ayittey told the Court,

She explained that the only letter, which she received, and to which she wrote an acceptance letter on May 5, 1995, was the one she received from the DIC sent to her on the instructions of Former President Jerry John Rawlings which said in consultation with the Council of State, he had appointed her as a Co-opted Member of the Committee.

Asked whether the 31st DWM had a bank account, Ayittey responded in the affirmative, adding that the Movement had several banking accounts. She mentioned some of DWM's local accounts at branches of the Merchant Bank, SG-SSB, Ghana Commercial Bank, as well as some of the rural banks.

In answer to another question by the DPP as to whether the Movement operated any foreign account, Ayittey replied in the negative. She further said she did not have a personal account in Vienna, Austria, nor did the Movement have one in that country.

In answer to questions by the DPP about meetings she allegedly held with two of the Prosecution Witnesses - Dr Albert Owusu-Banarfo, Consultant of SIPH, and Madam Georgina Okaiteye, Member of the DWM - Ayittey denied ever having met them.

She disagreed with a suggestion by the DPP that at those meetings, she gave the two Prosecution Witnesses three conditions that were to be fulfilled by SIPH if it wanted to be considered for GREL's divestiture.

Ayittey told the Court that it was not true that she had meetings with Dr Owusu-Banarfo and Madam Okaiteye; neither did she discuss the divestiture programme with them at any point in time.

She disagreed with a suggestion by the DPP that the two visited her at her offices at the Ghana Industrial Holding Corporation (GIHOC) Distilleries.

Ayittey disagreed with another suggestion by the DPP that in May 1995, Dr Owusu-Banarfo and his principals from France paid a courtesy call on her at her offices, where they allegedly donated a cheque for an amount of 20,000 dollars in support of DWM's projects.

Ayittey further denied having travelled to Paris in France at the kind invitation of SIPH sometime in 1995, where she was alleged to have met Dr Owusu-Banarfo and Madam Okaiteye. Further hearing of the matter has been fixed for Thursday, January 27.

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