Woyome asks for 3 years--to refund judgement debt (Front page)

The Supreme Court Tuesday cautioned the embattled businessman, Alfred A. Woyome, to take the court seriously after it dismissed his latest application seeking a stay of execution to allow him to pay the GH¢51.2 million he fraudulently received as judgement debt while he heads to the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) whose functions include arbitration in business/commerce cases.

Woyome also prayed the court to allow him to pay the money by instalments, starting with GH¢8 million at the end of April, with the rest spread over 36 months and paid quarterly.

The court, however, took exception to the fact that while Mr Ken Anku, counsel for Woyome, had told the media that he was heading to the ICC for arbitration, he was in the court seeking to tie the hands of the Attorney-General (A-G) to prevent her from attaching Woyome’s properties because his client wanted to renegotiate the terms of payment.

According to his lawyer, Mr Woyome had, by a letter dated February 10, this year, notified the court that he was heading to the ICC.

Dismissal

But the court, presided over by Mr Justice Julius Ansah, dismissed the letter, insisting that the court was not bound by it.

“By this letter, do you want to tie our hands here? For me, this is a red herring,” an obviously displeased Mrs Justice Sophia Adinyira said.

Asked to produce a contract between his client and the ICC, Mr Anku could not submit one.

He rather said he was just a lawyer who was attending to the demands of his client.

The court also took issue with the decision of Mr Anku to grant interviews to the media when he had not even filed the processes required to be at the ICC.

With his case losing its legs, Mr Anku pleaded with the court to allow him to withdraw the case.

Terms of payment

But the court said it would not allow the case to be withdrawn and asked Mr Anku to state the payment terms.

The court burst into laughter when Mr Anku read the date of the first payment to be April 31, compelling Mr Justice Jones Dotse to humorously say, “Even though we are in a leap year, I don’t think April has 31 days.”

But other judges on the five-member panel did not take kindly to the new terms of payment, especially when Mr Woyome had told the court earlier that the amount would be refunded by December 31, last year.

“Eight million and four instalments in 36 months? Do you think you are being fair to the state?” Mr Justice Paul Baffoe-Bonnie asked.

But Mr Anku said his client had not been able to refund the money because all his accounts had been frozen by the Bank of Ghana.

He, however, said although the Central Bank de-froze the accounts last month, his client had tried to renegotiate the payment with the A-G without success.

That statement got a Chief State Attorney, Mrs Dorothy Afriyie Ansah, on her feet.

She argued that the new terms being proposed by Mr Woyome were unreasonable.

“They have not shown the intention to pay. He does not believe in what he is telling the court. He is not going to abide by it, just as he did not comply with the first one when he said he would refund the money by December 31, last year,” she added.

She asked for GH¢10,000 costs against Woyome.

The court dismissed the application and awarded GH¢5,000 costs against Mr Woyome.

The other member of the panel was Mr Justice Kwesi Anin-Yeboah.

Background

Woyome was paid the money in three tranches of GH¢17 million each on the pretext that he provided financial engineering for the government for the construction of stadia for the CAN 2008 tournament.

However, the Supreme Court, in July 2014, unanimously ordered him to refund the GH¢51.2 million to the state.

The court said Mr Woyome got the money out of an invalid and unconstitutional contract.

According to the court, the contract upon which he made and received the claim was in contravention of Article 181 (5) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, which requires such contracts to be laid before and approved by Parliament.

The court was ruling on a review application filed by a former Attorney-General, Mr Martin Amidu.

On February 11, this year, the Supreme Court also dismissed a suit by Abdulai Yusif Fanash Muhammed which sought a review of the highest court’s earlier ruling that Woyome should refund the money paid to him by the government as judgement debt.

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