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29.03.2006 General News

Auditor-General Testifies

By Ghanaian Chronicle
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The Auditor-General, Edward Dua Agyeman has told an Accra Fast Track High Court that directors of Caridem Development Centre, ought to be held accountable for failing to pay back a loan facility.

Mr. Dua Agyeman, was testifying before the court on a subpoena in a libel suit between the former first lady, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings and the publishers and two editors of the Daily Guide newspaper.

Led in evidence by counsel for defendants, Mr. Godfred Yeboah Dame, witness told the court that he knew Sherry Aryitey, Georgina Okantey, Larry Adjetey and George Mould as directors of Carridem.

Witness informed the court that he knew the former first lady as the chairman of Carridem Development Centre but not as a director.

He stated that in the course of his work as Auditor-General, he dealt with the 31st December Women's Movement (31st DWM) and discovered that Carridem owned Kanda and Dansoman Vocational training centers.

The court however ruled out witness' assertion on the grounds that it was irrelevant, but counsel for defendants objected to the courts ruling stating that the questions were relevant and wondered whether the court was not embarking on selective justice.

The presiding judge, Mrs. Justice. Iris May Brown noted that matters on the vocational institute were not relevant to matters concerning the case, since the case before the court had to do with Nsawam canneries and The Daily Guide and therefore advised counsel that he knew the procedure to adopt to take matters up when he was dissatisfied with the court.

Continuing with his evidence, the Auditor General said he knew Carridem was a limited liability company owned by the 31st DWM, which had bought Nsawam Canneries from the Divestiture Implementation Committee (DIC).

According to witness, records at the Registrar General's show that the shares of Carridem were held by one Sherry Aryitey.

Responding further to questions from counsel, witness told the court that he sent a copy of a final report on the DIC Nsawam cannery to the Registrar-General, who sent him a copy of a Trust Deed, indicating that Sherry Aryitey was holding shares in trust and that the 31st DWM owned Carridem.

Answering questions on a loan facility, witness said the Trade and Investment Programme (TIP) fund was set up by government to support small and medium scale business and non-traditional exporters and was managed by Ecobank Ghana.

According to him, records show that Carridem fully withdrew a sum of ¢750 million in 1997 from the TIP fund. Witness was however shown a document from the TIP fund and monies withdrawn by Carridem, which he confirmed, and was tendered in evidence.

Additionally witness said the original sum owed by Carridem was ¢750 million but went on to explain to the court that as at July 2005 when he requested for the statement the money had grown to 2.9billion.

He stated that he indicted the former first Lady Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, Kwame Preprah and Emmanuel Agbodo for falsifying the amount Carridem owned Ecobank through divestiture of GIHOC and Nsawam Canneries.

He said he saw the Salary and Purchase Agreement between Carridem and the DIC, which states that Carridem is to pay the sum of 1.4 billion for the purchase of the Nsawam Cannery.

However during cross-examination by Tony Lithur counsel for the former first lady, witness averred he never hated the former first lady and her husband.

Witness stated that he was never removed from his position while working at the auditor Generals Department as a deputy Auditor General adding that he had no idea whether he was forced to.

Responding to questions, witness admitted making some findings in an audit report which caused some people to be removed from office but could not tell which one counsel was referring to.

Witness admitted writing letter stating he was going to audit all Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO), which he did a year after he resumed office admitting further that apart from Carridem he had not audited any other NGO.

Asked by counsel why he did not deem it fit to audit the Divestiture Implementation Committee, which is a government entity, witness told the court that no one directs him as to how to go about his work.

The Auditor General told the court that he objected to the SAP and a particular paragraph because it was not relevant and denied counsel's assertion that it did not mean anything to him and that it was because he had his own agenda.

He however admitted reporting the plaintiff to the police for fraud and forgery but said he was not aware that Carridem has sued the Ghana Government of Ghana and DIC in respect of Nsawam Cannery because of his conduct.

The former first lady is in court seeking exemplary and punitive damages for libel with respect to a publication on front page of The Daily Guide in its July 6, last year edition captioned, 'Milking the Sacred Cow - KONADU OWES ¢2.8 BILLION - to the state'.

She is seeking also an order restraining the editors from further publishing similar or other libelous statements or stories on or about her.

Sitting has been adjourned to May 9, 2006.