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21.06.2005 Crime & Punishment

Ato Ahwoi Charged, Discharged, Re-Charged


... Only 2 witnesses called after 3 years!

... Charges dropped and new charges preferred!

... 3 prosecutors, 2 judges involved so far! ...

Mr. Ato Ahwoi, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Accra Hearts of Oak Sporting Club Limited, member of the Finance Committee of the NDC, leading member of the CJA organisers of the "Wahala" Marches, and PNDC Secretary (Minister) for Trade, Fuel and Power (Energy) and Revenue in the PNDC Government, was last Friday discharged on two courts of conspiracy and defrauding by false pretences by an Accra Circuit Court, but was immediately re-charged with four counts on the same charges, but this time with respect to two transactions involving the same Hearts of Oak player.

The facts of Mr. Ato Ahwoi's case and the ordeal he has gone through in the past three years are fairly straightforward.

Hearts of Oak transferred a player, Justice Ampah, to a German Club. The German owners of the Club were also 60% owners of the Takoradi-based Ghanaian company, WAMCO. The German Company directed Hearts of Oak to contact WAMCO for the payment of the transfer fees. WAMCO asked Hearts of Oak to prepare invoices for public relations and consultancy services respectively. Ato Ahwoi as Chairman of the Board signed the invoices, which were paid directly into the bank accounts of GFA (10%) and Hearts of Oak (90%) as per the regulations. That is the entire case!

Ato Ahwoi was first charged on June 4th, 2002. He has made over 40 court appearances since then. The prosecution has changed three times. The original judge, Justice Willewise Kyeremeh, resigned from the Bench after running into problems with the Judicial Service. Justice N. E. K. Osam took over the case for the first time last Friday.

Also for the first time last Friday, the police prosecutors were taken off the case. A Chief State Attorney, Mr. B. Cab-Beyuo, assisted by a State Attorney, Mrs. Attakora Obuobisa, made the presentation on behalf of the NPP Government. Mr. Cab-Beyuo entered a "nolle prosequi" stopping the case, had Mr. Ato Ahwoi discharged, and substituted fresh counts, but with the same charges, except that the first payment of the transfer fees have now been made part of the charges.

Consequently Mr. Jan Doets, the Managing Director of WAMCO at the time of the first payment, has now been added as an accused person in addition to his successor Managing Director Michael Holzaepfel and Mr. Ato Ahwoi.

The case has been adjourned to 15th July 2005.