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Attempts to auction businessman Alfred Agbesi Woyome’s properties to defray a GH¢51.2 million debt owed the state have hit a roadblock following a number of developments.

The latest issue is a suit by Woyome challenging portions of the Judgement Debt Commission’s report which indicted him.







The first hiccup was recorded in March this year when lawyers for the Manet Towers branch of UT Bank wrote to the Attorney-General’s (A-G’s) Department laying claim to two residential properties thought to belong to Woyome at Trasacco, a plush neighbourhood in Accra.

The Daily Graphic has gathered that another body is claiming ownership of the businessman’s other properties.

Both claimants have filed different suits at the High Court.

All those issues had brought the auction process to a temporary halt, the sources disclosed.

The effect of the developments is that the state cannot sell those properties until it is proven that the claims are false.

A source at the A-G’s Department told the Daily Graphic that the state was contesting the claims.

Background

The Supreme Court, on July 29, 2014, ordered Woyome to refund GH¢51.2 million to the state on the grounds that he got the money out of unconstitutional and invalid contracts between the state and Waterville Holdings Limited in 2006 for the construction of stadia for CAN 2008.

Woyome has gone to the International Court of Arbitration to contest the court’s decision.

He served notice after reneging on his promise to the Supreme Court to pay the money by the end of December 2015.

On March 1, 2016, Woyome prayed the court to give him three years to pay back the money but the court declined to grant his wish.

The court had, in the 2014 review decision, held that the contracts upon which Woyome made and received the claim were in contravention of Article 181 (5) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana which requires such contracts to be laid before and approved by Parliament.

The 11-member court, presided over by the Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, was ruling on a review application filed by a former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr Martin Amidu, who brought the initial action praying the court to order Woyome to pay the money.

June 14, 2013 judgement

The court had, on June 14, 2013, directed the international construction firm, Waterville Holdings (BVI) Limited, to refund all the money paid to it by the Ghana government on the premise that it had no valid and constitutional contractual agreement with the government.

Waterville is expected to refund more than 25 million euros it received from the government following the court’s judgement that the said contract it entered into with the government for stadia construction for CAN 2008 was unconstitutional.

That was because it had contravened Article 181 (5) of the 1992 Constitution which requires such contracts to go to Parliament for approval.

Mr Amidu had, in the original suit, prayed the court to order Woyome to refund the money he had received as a result of the void contract the government had entered into with Waterville Holdings.

However, the court declined jurisdiction over the issue, with the reason that the Attorney-General was pursuing the matter at the Commercial Court to retrieve the money.

The court reversed its position on July 29, 2014 and thus quashed all processes at the Commercial Court.

In the Waterville judgement, the court declared as null and void and of no operative effect a contract titled: “Contract for the Rehabilitation (Design, Construction, Fixtures, Fittings and Equipment) of a 40,000 Seating Capacity Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi, Ghana” entered into between the Republic of Ghana and Waterville Holdings (BVI) Limited of P.O. Box 3444, Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands, on April 26, 2006.

Criminal case

Meanwhile, Woyome walked out of the premises of the Court of Appeal a free man on March 10, 2016 after the court exonerated him from the charge of causing financial loss to the state in the controversial GH¢51.2 million judgement debt paid to him by the state.

He escaped prison for the second time in a year after the court, in a unanimous decision, declined to grant the state’s prayer for the overturn of his acquittal and discharge granted by the High Court on March 12, 2015.

The High Court, presided over by Mr Justice John Ajet-Nasam, had acquitted and discharged Woyome on two counts of defrauding by false pretences, contrary to Section 131 (1) of the Criminal Offences Act (1960), Act 29, and causing financial loss to the State, contrary to Section 179 A (3) (a) of the Criminal Offences Act (1960), Act 29.

The state again appealed on the grounds that the trial judge erred in law in not considering the evidence adduced by the prosecution, but the Court of Appeal held a different position and freed him again.







Source: Graphic.

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