The Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, was yesterday discharged by an Accra High Court after he concluded his testimony in the trial of former Deputy Minister of Finance under the John Mahama administration, Dr. Casiel Ato Forson, and two other persons.
The minister was discharged after lawyers for Dr. Ato Forson, Sylvester Anemana, a former Chief Director at the Ministry of Health, as well as private businessman, Richard Jakpa, who are standing trial for allegedly wilfully causing financial loss of €2.37 million to the state, concluded their cross-examinations.
Mr. Agyeman-Manu, during his cross-examination by Dr. Aziz Bamba, counsel for Ato Forson, told the court that the Letters of Credit (LCs) which was established and led to monies being paid to Big Sea General Trading Limited, a Dubai-based company that shipped the ambulances, should not have been established.
He said one of the clauses in the contract was that the LCs would be established upon sight of goods upon the signing of the contract for every 50 ambulances, 120 days after the contract was signed, but that obligation was not carried out by government at the time, so the LCs should never have been established.
“Did the Government of Ghana establish the LC as in the manner required by clause 4.2.1.?” Dr. Aziz Bamba asked.
“In my mind, I will say no. But my Lady, let me draw your attention to another fact. In that same bullet point, LCs on the sight of goods shall be established upon the signing of the contract for every 50 ambulances. My Lady, Exhibit V that I have, speaks about purchasing brand new 200 medical ambulances. And so my Lady, the contract for every 50 ambulances that clause 4.2 talks about, was never done. And therefore, the LCs should not have been established at all,” Mr. Agyeman-Manu responded.
“Will you agree with me that by the Government of Ghana not complying with clause 4.2.1 in terms of the time frame for setting up the LC, the Government of Ghana breached Exhibit V,” counsel further queried, and the Health Minister said, “I will like to agree with you.”
Meanwhile, the minister once again insisted that Dr. Ato Forson requested for the establishment of Letters of Credit contrary to the terms of the contract.
“A1 (Dr. Forson) never authorised the setting up of the LC,” the lawyers queried. “There is evidence before the court showing he requested,” the Health Minister insisted.
“And after the LC was established, you have not sighted any document that indicated that A1 Dr. Forson authorised payment to be made under the LC,” Dr. Bamba further asked.
“I have not sighted any document,” the minister responded.
The case was adjourned to January 10, 2023, for the prosecution to call its next witness, an official from the Ministry of Finance. The long adjournment is as a result of the trial judge, Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe, going on leave after sitting during the legal vacation.