The oral examination of businessman Alfred Agbesi Woyome comes off today Monday, July 24, at the Supreme Court.
Deputy Attorney-General Godfred Dame has begun an inquiry into how Mr. Woyome spent the money and to uncover potential sources of income for the businessman in order to recover more than 50million cedis due to the State.
1st Question :What business do you do
Response: I am a businessman
Q.What kind of business
Lawyer Anku (for Woyome) is up. Says he is objecting the question arguing, the kind of business is not of relevance under C.I 47 . He adds the order of the court didn't include that.
Judge says Lawyer Anku should read the orders of the court, the third part that says he should tell whether he has means of paying.
Lawyer Anku insists it's unfair. Dame disagrees, says how can they elicit his means of satisfying debt if they don't ask.
Objection over ruled
Response: I have been a businessman since I returned to Ghana in 1999. I have not engaged in any business since my prosecution.
Q: When were you prosecuted
Response: 2011 thereabout
Question: From 1997 to 2011,what business were you engaged in?
Response: I have been operating companies, have also consulted
Q. Which specific business?
Response: My business has been in the sourcing of funds for projects which are mostly owned by the government. I am one of the directors of the company that introduced Red Bull into Ghana.
The state is here to take money, that is erroneous, I have agreed to a payment plan
Judge intervenes, tells Dep. AG to take note.
Q Before 1999, what businesses are you engaged in?
R. I cannot answer that question because it has no relevance.
Dame is up, argues it's relevant.
Sole Judge: Justice Benin warns that if it emerges that he had knowledge and could answer that question he will face the consequences.
R. My Lord, I had diplomatic engagements for which reason I cannot disclose.
Response: It is erroneous for the state to say they cannot find my asset.
Judge intervenes, tells him he has not been asked that
Q. Mr. Woyome, you own AAW management consulting services company limited
R. My Lord I want to comment before I answer.
Judge: Answer first, before you comment.
R. Yes, my Lord with some explanation. I was served with one process, then I saw in the news a list of companies related to me. So I came to check at the office and was told there was an ex parte motion. I have two issues, one has to do with temporarily charging my shares and the other is the examination.
I feel abused, in many ways. I am here to tell the court why that order should not be made permanent.
Judge. That's a separate issue. We will get there. You are the one putting the two together.
Q: This was incorporated in September 2016?.
R I don't have the documents here but I know it was done a year ago,
Judge: Is the 2016 right?
R. He came by Ex Parte so I cannot confirm
Dame hands document to the clerk, wants to tender it in for the benefit of the witness.
The document is handed to Mr. Woyome.
Q: You were not truthful to the court when you said you have not been engaged in business since 2011.
Response: That is incorrect. My understanding of engaging in business is not the establishment of a company.
Q. Indeed you are Director in the company I just referred to; is that not correct?.
R. It's a registered company not engaged in business. I am constrained a bit. The state is trying to use this forum to generate criminality. I still take my refuge in this court. Being dragged to this extent, I rest my self in the constitution of this country. The state says I don't want to pay which is not true. We have a payment plan, I paused because I have triggered a process and the state has been served.
Judge: We have gone beyond that stage. We are here to check your means.
R. I have not refused to obey the orders of the court.
Q: Anator Holdings Company Limited is also owned solely by you.
Response: Incorrect, my Lord. I am a Director, Executive Board Chairman. It is incorrect that it is wholly owned by me.
Q. That company was incorporated in 2014.
Godfred Dame tenders in a document.
R. There was a law requiring registration. That was what we did. If my memory served me right, it was not the first incorporation.
Lawyer Anku: My client is on medication, if we can take a break so he takes his medication.
Judge let's take a 15min break and resumes.
Q: You remain a shareholder of Anator. What percentage of shares do you own?
R. My Lord...
Lawyer Anku intervenes. Judge says it's a harmless question, let him answer. Lawyer Anku says this is an invasion of his privacy.
Judge says this is a registered company. He can answer. In fact, anyone can apply and get that.
Lawyer Anku: The state can do so to which the judge replies: "Which one is easier; he telling us or going through that process. Is it a crime to own shares?. I can adjourn and ask the witness to bring all that."
Lawyer Anku: I will take that.
Judge: I know you want an adjournment. I won't grant that. Woyome, answer that.
R. Since the start of the criminal case I have not been working. Shares were traded to fund my legal fees.
Judge: What we want is what is on record.
R. I will need to refresh my memory. I cannot readily remember, I need the state to defer this matter for us to furnish this. I have filed for transfer of shares.
Q: I suggest to you that you have not filed any register for transfer of shares.
R: The company's bank accounts and assets were frozen by EOCO; it caused a lot of attrition. There are some records of that on the company's records. I will need to refresh my memory on that.
Q: So you agree with me that, in the records of the company registry at the Registrar General's Department, you remain the only shareholder.
R: I have not ascertained that.
Q: I put it to you that contrary to your claim that you have not engaged in business since 2011, on account that you were a shareholder of the company since 2011, you did business.
Judge intervenes. AG wants to move on.
Q. You live at Abelemkpe and Kokomlemle, is that not correct? These are houses owned by you.
R. That's incorrect. I own the Kokomlele one with my family. You cannot say that for the Abelemkpe one.
Q. Under what circumstance do you occupy the Abelemkpe one?
R. It's a family house.
Q. Who in your family owns it?
Judge intervenes. What do you mean by it's a family house?
R. It's a family house owned by my junior brother. The house has been made available for use by the family for years now.
Q. I suggest to you that your testimony that your brother owns that house is false.
R. That's incorrect.
Q: I will apply for the court to ask him to provide the document for that. This is a debtor who since 2014 has paid a paltry sum. It's crucial we know this.
Lawyer Anku: Order 46 under which the state including myself has come under, allows oral examination. If the state was minded, they could have applied when the order for oral examination was made. Not at this time.
Judge: he says he doesn't own that house, the state thinks he does. In such situations, the normal rules of evidence will have to be followed. Is it necessary for the court to make an order? That's what I want you to look at. A lot of things come up during oral examination.
Lawyer Anku: They could have done that if they were minded.
Judge: Mr Woyome, can you help the court with the documents?
Response: It may be with my brother outside the jurisdiction. I have stated the truth, never have I lied. If the state believes it's not, the state can go ahead to prove whatever they want to.
Judge: What's the property number?
Response: I cannot readily remember.
Judge: The witness is directed to furnish the Registry, of this court, 5th property number of this house by close of work on Friday. The Registrar of the court is to issue a subpoena to the Registrar of the Lands Commission to appear to assist the court.
Justice Alfred Benin on the July 4, 2017 paved way for the oral examination when he dismissed an application by Mr. Woyome, challenging the State’s motion seeking an order to orally examine him on how he spent the 51 million cedis paid to him illegally.
Mr. Woyome was paid GHc 51 million after claiming he helped Ghana raise funds to construct stadia for the hosting of the 2008 African Cup of Nations.
However, an Auditor General’s report released in 2010, held that the amount was paid illegally to him.
Subsequently, the Supreme Court in 2014 ordered Mr. Woyome to pay back the money, after a former Attorney General, Martin Amidu, single-handedly challenged the legality of the payments.
Following delays in retrieving the money, Supreme Court judges unanimously granted the Attorney-General clearance to execute the court’s judgment, ordering Mr. Woyome to refund the cash to the state.
Mr. Amidu himself, in 2016, filed an application at the Supreme Court seeking to examine Alfred Woyome, on how he was going to pay back the money, after the Attorney General’s office under the Mahama Administration, led by the former Minister for Justice, Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong, discontinued a similar application.
In February 21017 however, Mr. Amdu withdrew his suit seeking an oral examination, explaining that the change of government and the assurance by the new Attorney General to retrieve all judgement debts wrongfully paid to individuals, had given him renewed confidence in the system.