It surfaced at the Financial Division of the Fast Track High Court yesterday that the government and Woyome entered into a pre-trial settlement at the Commercial Court before the last two instalments, totalling GH¢34 million, were paid to the businessman who is currently on trial for wilfully causing financial loss to the state and defrauding by false pretence.
The Commercial Court, presided over by Mr Justice Amadu Tanko, had in 2010 granted GH¢51.2 million in judgement debt in favour of Woyome against the state over financial engineering services Woyome claimed he had performed for the government.
It, however, ordered that GH¢17 million be paid to Woyome, while the remaining GH¢34 million be stalled until the court decided on whether or not to set aside its earlier judgement in favour of Woyome.
Lead counsel for Woyome, Mr Sarfo Buabeng, made the revelation on the GH¢34 million settlement while cross-examining an Assistant Superintendent of Police, Mr Odame Okyere, at the court’s sitting in Accra.
Counsel had sought to suggest to Mr Okyere, the investigator in the case, that the GH¢51.2 million had been paid to Woyome based on the judgement obtained by Woyome, but the investigator disagreed.
According to the investigator, the court had given permission for only GH¢17 million to be paid until the Attorney-General’s application to set aside the entire judgement was resolved.
At that point, Mr Buabeng asked the witness whether or not he found out the state of the matter at the Commercial Court before the second and third instalments were made.
The witness answered in the negative.
Mr Buabeng further queried the witness if he found out whether or not the second and third instalments were paid after a pre-trial settlement between Woyome and the government at the Commercial Court, to which the witness said, “I did not find out.”
Mr Okyere, who had earlier stated that Woyome and the government had compromised the court’s judgement, attempted to explain that parties that compromised court orders could go back to the court to explain settlement terms.
His position was met with a sharp rebuttal from the trial judge, Mr Justice John Ajet-Nasam, who held the view that such compromises were contemptuous.
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Asked if a former Deputy Chief of Staff, Mr Alex Segbefia, knew of Woyome’s claim to the government, the investigator said he interrogated Mr Segbefia who said the Presidency had no hand in matters relating to the judgement debt.
Witness said Mr Segbefia further denied personal knowledge of the said claim and asserted in his statement to the police that Woyome had come to see him (Mr Segbefia) over a different issue and not on matters related to the GH¢51.2 million.
Mr Okyere said he could not get a former Deputy Chief of Staff, Ms Valerie Sawyerr, for interrogation over Woyome’s claim.
According to the witness, he was also not aware of the membership of the team that negotiated Woyome’s claim against the government for providing financial engineering services.
The witness initially disagreed with Mr Buabeng’s suggestion that the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the Local Organising Committee (LOC) of CAN 2008 were government agencies.
Counsel had sought to prove to the witness that a letter from the Bank of Austria which urged those bodies to accept a financial offer of one billion euros before September 30, 2005 or lose it was, in fact, connected to the government, but the investigator disagreed.
After back and forth questions, answers and further questions, Mr Okyere finally conceded that those bodies were agencies of the government.
Hearing continues on January 30, 2014.
Alfred Agbesi Woyome faces two counts of wilfully causing financial loss to the state and defrauding by false pretence.
He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is currently on a GH¢20 million bail.
The government is currently at the Commercial Division of the Fast Track High Court to retrieve the GH¢51.2 million but Woyome is battling the state on the grounds that he was entitled to the claim.