The Office of the Attorney General has filed the documents for the trial of Dr Cassiel Ato Forson, a former Deputy Minister of Finance under the John Dramani Mahama administration, and two other persons who are standing trial for allegedly willfully causing financial loss of €2.37 million to the state.
The prosecution filed the disclosures as well as witness statements of its witness on Monday, February 14, 2022.
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa, told the High Court yesterday that there is an outstanding witness statement yet to be filed.
The court, presided over by Justice Afia Serwaa Asare-Botwe, was not impressed that the disclosures were only filed last Monday and hoped that failure to meet the court’s deadline was not “to cast shadows of greater things to come” during the trial.
The DPP told the court that they had some difficulties in filing the disclosures as two members of their legal team who had to sign the documents had travelled out of the jurisdiction.
Businessman, Richard Jakpa, one of the accused persons, yesterday had his bench warrant rescinded by the court.
The accused person was absent when the case was called but appeared before the court in the course of the proceedings, and the court subsequently cancelled the arrest warrant and cautioned him to be punctual at all times.
The court made it clear to him that there is a difference between a criminal trial and a civil trial.
The case was adjourned to March 1, 2022, for case management conference.
The NDC MP, who is Ranking Member of Finance together with Sylvester Anemana, a former Chief Director of the Ministry of Health, as well as the private businessman, have been charged for their respective involvements in the purchase of 200 ambulances which the prosecution is alleging were not fit for purpose.
The three have been charged with five counts of willfully causing financial loss to the state, abetment to willfully causing financial loss to the state, contravention of the Public Procurement Act and intentionally misapplying public property, to which they all pleaded not guilty.
The offences relate to the purchase of what court documents describe as defective vehicles which were not originally manufactured to function as ambulances, hence could not be converted for such a purpose.
Per the brief facts of the case, on December 22, 2011, Cabinet endorsed an Executive Approval that had been granted for a joint memorandum submitted by the Minister for Health and the Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning for the purchase of 200 ambulances out of a medium-term loan facility of €15.8 million to be paid out of a credit arrangement between Stanbic Bank Ghana Limited and Government of Ghana through the Ministry of Finance.
The prosecution said Parliament on November 1, 2012, granted approval for the financing agreement between the government and Stanbic Bank Ghana Limited for the procurement of the 200 ambulances.
The facts indicated that on August 7, 2014, in complete disregard for the financing arrangement for the transaction approved by both Cabinet and the Parliament of Ghana, Dr Forson authorised the Bank of Ghana to “urgently establish the Letters of Credit for the supply of 50 ambulances amounting to €3.96 million representing 25 per cent of the contract sum.”
At this time, not a single ambulance had been delivered.
“On 12th August 2014, the first accused also directed the Controller and Accountant-General to pay the sums of GH¢806,688.75 representing bank charges covering the establishment of Letters of Credit for the supply of 50 ambulances and further directed for the amount to be charged against the Capital Expenditure Vote for the Ministry of Health. All these directives by the first accused were in violation of the agreement for the supply of the ambulances as well as the parliamentary approval regarding the financing of the transaction.”
It said it was pursuant to these unlawful directives by Dr. Forson that Big Sea shipped 30 vehicles in three (3) consignments between October 2014 and February 2015 which were fundamentally defective and lacking the basic requirements for an ambulance.
It also indicated that throughout the remainder of former President John Mahama’s tenure between December 2014 and January 2017, the vehicles were never converted into ambulances.