Prosecution subjects charter agreement on MV Benjamin to scrutiny
Prosecution subjects charter agreement on MV Benjamin to scrutiny Website
Joseph Kwabena Dawson, owner of the MV Benjamin, which was used to ship 77 parcels of cocaine into the country, came under fire at the fast Track High Court in Accra on Thursday when prosecution punched holes in the vessel's charter agreement. Dawson told the Fast Track High Court that Mr Joseph Dawson, his father and an advisor to Dashment Company Limited and Mr Joe Bea, a Korean, signed for the company and Sheriff Asem Dake aka limping man signed as Mr Evans Charwatey, Managing Director of Atico Fisheries Limited. In a cross-examination of Dawson, who is also the Managing Director of Dashment Company Limited, it came to light that Sheriff used his brother's name (Mr Evans Charwatey, Managing Director of Atico Fisheries) on the charter agreement. Dawson, who is standing trial with four crew members for the various roles they played in importing the 77 parcels of cocaine on board MV Benjamin, said he did not know that Sheriff was not Mr Charwatey. Isaac Arhin, a 49 year-old sailor, Philip Kobina Bruce Arhin, a 47 year-old mechanic, Cui Xing Li, a 44 year-old Chinese sailor and Luo Yin Xing, a 49 year-old sailor are also on trial. Isaac Arhin, Philip Arhin, Cui and Luo are charged for possessing narcotic drugs without authority and engaging in prohibited business. Park and Dawson are facing the charge of engaging in prohibited business relating to narcotics. They have pleaded not guilty and are in Police custody. Dawson explained that his father signed the charter agreement because he had earlier signed a hire purchase agreement on the vessel. He said in the agreement Sheriff chartered the vessel for 60 days. Dawson said as the Managing Director, he undertook administration work together with Mr Bae. When the prosecution demanded who prepared the charter agreement, Dawson said it was Mr Bea who has since left the country. According to him, Mr Bea was paying for MV Benjamin hence he prepared the charter agreement. He debunked the prosecution's assertion that in the agreement Sheriff was not to see to the rehabilitation of the vessel but rather to provide fuel and crew, among others. On the sale agreement, Dawson said Sheriff signed for the buyer while Mr Bea signed for Dashment Company Limited, because the registration was still in the name of Dashment. Dawson, who has been in the fishing business for 10 years told the court that MV Benjamin was valued at 250,000 dollars and that amount was to be paid in installments. However, in the sale agreement, the buyer was to make an initial deposit of 150,000 dollars. When quizzed on the kind of vessel MV Benjamin was to tow a distressed vessel on the high seas in Guinea Conakry, Dawson said he did not know. "My Lord I have no idea of the kind of vessel that MV Benjamin was to tow on the high seas." Prosecution: Were you interested in the MV Benjamin vessel? Dawson: I was interested in MV Benjamin's operation but because Dashment Company was unable to pay the money so we vested powers into Mr Bae. Dawson told the court that he did not know when rehabilitation of MV Benjamin took place. This, he said, was to be done by Sheriff, who in turn would inform him when repair works were over. Dawson said that was to enable him to process the shipping licence and other relevant changes. Dawson said in the charter agreement, Sheriff stated that MV Benjamin was to be used in towing a distressed vessel at Conakry, Guinea. The case was adjourned to November 6.