Court Rules On Osei Adjei’s No Case Submission
An Accra Fast Track High Court, Financial Division Judge would on February 25, 2011 give a ruling on the submission of no case filed by Akwasi Osei-Adjei, former Minister for Foreign Affairs and Daniel Charles Gyimah, former Managing Director of National Investment Bank (NIB). The two are standing trial for causing financial loss to the state. The court presided over by Justice Bright Mensah would, on the basis of the evidence of the seventeen witnesses presented by the Principal Prosecuting, Attorney Anthony Gyambiby, determine whether or not their evidence links the two accused persons to the alleged offences. The offences of the two persons include diverting some of the 15,000 metric tonnes of rice imported from India for their own personal gains, as well as violating the Public Procurement Act (PPA). At yesterday’s hearing, Godfred Yeboah-Dame gave a copy of the law which exempts the payment of taxes on imported rice and oil to the court. He told the court that at the time the rice arrived, the law, which was passed in June 2008, was still in force and observed that it was amended in December 2009. Counsel for the former minister was of opinion that “whoever charged import duty on the rice at that time must be held liable.” Paul Assibi Abariga, who represented the state, said he did not understand what was happening, to which the judge explained that an issue was raised in the course of the trial about the law which exempted the payment of taxes on imported rice and oil, which counsel for the minister wanted to draw the court’s attention to. Earlier, Mr. Abariga told the court that the state had filed its response to the submission of no case, to which the judge said that once he had received all the written submissions of Mr. Yeboah-Dame, Rtd. Col Alex Johnson- counsel for Mr.Gyimah and the state- he would go ahead and give his ruling on the matter on February 25, 2011. Mr. Dame in his written submission states that at the end of the prosecution’s case, there was not a shred of evidence to prove that the accused persons agreed to commit an act in violation of the procurement procedures, especially Public Procurement Act (PPA) 2003 (663). He is of the opinion that the procurement act “does not apply to all companies in which the state has an interest” and that the mere fact that an entity is partly owned by the state does not mean that the provisions of the Act will apply to that entity. According to counsel, throughout the trial, the evidence of the witnesses had shown that the importation of the rice from India was not financed with public funds but with letters of credit issued by Citibank of United States Of America, upon the request of National Investment Bank, adding that as a result, “public funds,” within the meaning of Section 98 of the PPA, did not apply to the case. Counsel believes that after the importation of the 15,000 metric tonnes of rice from India, the accused persons, as all the witness admitted, did not take part in offloading, packing or distributing it, neither did they take part in the sale and distribution of the rice so could not have connived to divert some of the rice for their personal gain. Counsel for the former minister is of the view that if any financial loss was occasioned after the sale of the rice, then it would be as a result of the fact that it was sold at a price lower than the market price, contending that some bidders were even ready to pay a much higher price for the rice but the NIB officers sold it at a lower price because, according to them, they needed the money immediately.