Former Deputy Finance Minister, Cassiel Ato Forson and two other accused persons, Sylvester Anemana, a former Chief Director at the Ministry of Health and Richard Jakpa, a businessman, pleaded not guilty to the charge of causing a €2.3 million loss to the state.
The three were all granted bail in a sum totalling GH¢8 million, in what the Ajumako-Enyan-Esiam Member of Parliament (MP) believes is a “sinister plot to needlessly tarnish my reputation and rob me of my liberty simply because I remain implacably opposed to the poor economic policies of this government and in particular the e-Levy.”
The case relates to the procurement of some 200 Mercedes Benz ambulances by the Prof John Evans Atta Mills and John Mahama governments from a company called Big Sea Trading LLC.
Interestingly, many of the ambulances, have been left at the Air force Base at Burma Camp in Accra for five years to rot, by the Akufo-Addo government.
Some containers loaded with accessories for the ambulances, have also been left at the Tema port for five years to rot, although the government had claimed that the ambulances imported were empty.
The Akufo-Addo government through the Ministry of Health, led by Kweku Agyemang Manu, had spent millions of dollars to procure over 307 buses as ambulances under its One Constituency One Ambulance policy.
The Ranking Member on Parliament’s Finance Committee, had maintained that the Attorney General, Godfred Dame Yeboah, “is driven by hate, prejudice and demagoguery! He is the one abusing his prosecutorial powers to silence critical political opponents.”
Documents filed by the A-G’s office traces the events culminating into the alleged crimes, from a 2009 announcement during a State of the Nation Address of plans to procure ambulances for the country.
The A-G, says following this address, the Ministry of Health (MOH) initiated action to acquire more ambulances.
The third accused person, Richard Jakpa, is said to have used his company, Jakpa at Business, to present a proposal and term loan to the Health Ministry, which he claimed to have arranged from Stanbic Bank to finance the supply of 200 ambulances to the government.
According to the A-G, Cabinet endorsed an Executive approval for the project.
Mr Forson, after pleading not guilty, was granted self recognisance bail in the sum of ¢3 million.
The second accused person was granted bail of ¢1 million, while the third accused, Sylvester Anemana, a former Chief Director at the Ministry of Health, was granted bail of ¢5 million.
Few weeks ago, Dr. Forson, had asked the Attorney-General’s office to explain how he was able to sign a Cabinet Memo for the purchase of ambulances at a time he was not yet a Deputy Finance Minister.
He posed the question in a Facebook post recently after the A-G’s office in a press statement asserted that he, in December 2011, effected an Executive Approval for the purchase of 200 ambulances.
“As stated in the facts of the case filed in court, on 22nd December, 2011, cabinet endorsed an executive approval of a joint memorandum submitted to cabinet by the then Minister for Health and the first accused, Cassiel Ato Forson, then Deputy Minister for Finance, for the purchase of 200 ambulances out of a medium-term credit facility of €15,800,000 between Stanbic Bank Ghana Limited and the Government of Ghana through the Ministry of Finance,” part of the statement signed by Deputy Attorney-General, Diana Asonaba Dapaah reads.
But Dr Forson contends that the comments made by the A-G are inaccurate as he was appointed Deputy Minister of Finance in May, 2013 under the Mahama-led government.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Cabinet Memo for the purchase of the Ambulances was submitted in December, 2011. I became a Deputy Minister on the 2nd of May, 2013. How could I have signed a Cabinet Memo in December, 2011?” he quizzed.
More to come !