The Minister of Road Transport, Dr Richard Anane, returned to the state an amount of $1,400 out of an official expenditure allocation of $5,359 for a trip to Montreal to attend the International Civil Aviation Biennial Conference, the lead counsel of the minister, Mr Jacob Acquah-Sampson, has stated.
He, therefore, challenged allegations made in an article of the February 7, 2005 issue of The Chronicle, with the headline “Anane: The Shattering Evidence.”
The article alleged, among others, that the minister and Ms Alexandria O'Brien, with their son, Nicholas, spent public funds during the official trip to Montreal.
Questioning Mr Raymond Archer in Accra during the fifth public hearing of allegations of corruption and abuse of power against the minister which are being investigated by the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Mr Acquah-Sampson said Mr Archer had not been thorough enough in verifying his facts in his “undignified haste” to destroy Dr Anane.
That, he said, was the conclusion he had come to, after asking Mr Archer whether he had found out from the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) if the minister had been given an accountable imprest or how official trips were sponsored.
To both questions, Mr Archer responded in the negative, but insisted that he had been able to get GCAA receipts of payment of expenses incurred by Ms O'Brien.
He said he had evidence that the two, Dr Anane and Ms O'Brien, had shared the same room at a hotel in Montreal, and with the receipts, the conclusion could be made that public funds had been spent unofficially.
Mr Acquah-Sampson, at that point, confirmed the fact that the two had shared a room but brought to the attention of the panel that the minister went on the trip alone without communicating his plans to Ms O'Brien.
He said when the minister reached Montreal he had a call from her that she had also made an independent reservation into the Fairmont Hotel, where he was also to lodge, adding that “a state official commits no offence if he brings his child to sleep in the hotel room for which he has been given an allocation,” a statement that Mr Archer disagreed with.
The lead counsel then said Dr Anane did not make any other expenditure in respect of Ms O'Brien and their son and the article was an effort by Mr Archer that tarnish the image of Dr Anane as the impression was created that he spent more than his official allocation.
On an article in the May 16-18 issue of The Enquirer with the headline “Anane's Kangaroo Sponsors”, Mr Acquah-Sampson said Mr Archer had published information given to him by Ms O'Brien and that he had not cross-checked the information by contacting the other people who allegedly transferred money to Ms O'Brien on behalf of Dr Anane.
This was in reference to an e-mail from Ms O'Brien to someone called E. Lartey in which she listed 24 occasions on which she received money from the respondent and in which she failed to identify people through whom she received the money.
He said the e-mail had been copied to Mr Archer and wondered why Mr Archer had failed to ask Ms O'Brien to identify the people.
Mr Acquah-Sampson said bank statements that alleged transfers of money from particular people to Ms O'Brien's account were photocopies and, therefore, could be adulterated to create the wrong impression.
Responding, Mr Archer said he had not taken notice of the e-mail because during the time of his investigations, Ms O'Brien was also sending materials to others, including some people at Transparency International.
He said he had been able to confirm with one of his sources who had cross- checked with his bankers that the transfers had really been made through him to Ms O'Brien.
The Chief Executive of the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), Mr Joe Osei-Owusu then became the next big issue of contention between Mr Acquah-Sampson and Mr Archer.
The lead counsel said it was untrue that Mr Osei-Owusu had been rewarded with the position of chief executive of the DVLA because he had warded off Ms O'Brien in her constant harassment of Dr Anane.
He said Mr Osei-Owusu had acted as a lawyer on behalf of Dr Anane in November 2003 in a child maintenance case with Ms O'Brien and that was after his appointment as chief executive on March 2002.
In response, Mr Archer said the relationship between Dr Anane and Ms O'Brien began long before the appointment of Mr Osei-Owusu who, during that time, had worked with Dr Anane as his lawyer and subsequently in one of the agencies under the Ministry of Road Transport.
Mr Acquah-Sampson then asked Mr Archer if people in the opposition parties had prompted him to write the articles with the intent to destroy Dr Anane and whether he knew one Mr Kweku Appiah.
Mr Archer said he had not been paid by anyone and that he knew Mr Kweku Appiah as Joe Reggie.
He narrated how Joe Reggie had called him to say he had information for him on the issue of Dr Anane but realised after a few meetings with him that whatever transpired between them was reproduced in the next edition of the Daily Guide, an Accra independent daily paper.
He said he, therefore, called Joe Reggie to say he was no longer interested in the information. Mr Archer said he later found out that Joe Reggie worked for a paper called The Point, was edited by Mr George Nimako, a nephew of Dr Anane.