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09.08.2005 Crime & Punishment

Controversy erupts at Tsatsu’s trial

Chronicle
Controversy erupts at Tsatsu’s trial

A CONTROVERSY was sparked at the Fast Track High Court (FTC) yesterday, as to whether or not a representative of the Agence Française de Development (AFD), a French financial company, subpoenaed to make available documents relating to Valley Farm transactions, made on behalf of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) to mount the witness box or not.

Whilst, Prof. E.V.O. Dankwa, counsel for the former Chief Executive of GNPC, Tsatsu Tsikata, demanded that the Resident Manager of AFD, Mr. Jean Francois Arnal, mounted the witness box to tender the documents in evidence, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Mr. Osafo Sampong argued otherwise.

According to the DPP, the Resident Manager of AFD in reference to the court order was to make available the required document to the court and not to give evidence.

The court, which was initially against Mr. Arnal giving evidence from the witness box, stating he was not a witness, finally agreed that the AFD Resident Manager entered the box to submit the documents he was ordered to make available to the court.

From the witness box, the Resident Manager of AFD, told the court, presided over by Mrs. Justice Henrietta Abban, an Appeal Court Judge, sitting as an additional High Court judge that two of the seven documents demanded by the court could not be made available, as they had been destroyed.

Mr. Arnal asserted that the two documents had been destroyed taking in view of a policy under the French Law that required that documents be destroyed after ten years of existence.

Among the documents presented to the court were an Appraisal Report of Valley Farms Limited, the Re-appraisal of the Valley Farm and the South Tano Field, Certificate of Shares in Valley Farms Limited and Decision Number 38, 1990.

Subsequently, Mr. Arnal was asked to report to the court on the next adjourned date, August 18, 2005 when the defence would have studied the documents made available to them.

Tsikata, had at the last sitting of the court on July 28, requested through the court for a host of documents that included the feasibility studies conducted on the Valley Farms project, correspondence between Caisse Central and the GNPC regarding both the Valley Farms project and the Tano oil and gas project, communication from Caisse Central Head Office regarding the approval of the investment in Valley Farms as well as the loan facility, the guarantee agreement signed between Caisse Central and the GNPC, among other documents, to be made available to him.

Tsikata is standing trial on three counts of causing financial loss to the state and one count of intentionally misapplying public property by illegally guaranteeing a loan of 5.5 million French Francs from Caisse Francaise de Developement, a French company, to Valley Farms, a limited liability company.

He is further accused of using a total amount of ¢20 million belonging to the company for acquiring shares in the French company, when he was in office.

Valley Farms, subsequently defaulted in the payment of the loan and GNPC, as guarantors, settled the debt, when it was requested to do so upon default of payment by Valley Farms, prosecution alleged.

Tsikata has pleaded 'not guilty' to all the charges, and is on a ¢700 million self-recognisance bail.

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