General Politics

You can’t ‘gag’ us with prosecutions – Muntaka tells Gov’t

The Minority in Parliament says it will not be intimidated to approve bad government policies despite the prosecution of some of its members.

Former Deputy Finance Minister, Dr Cassiel Ato Forson was on Monday present in court for his role in the procurement of some ambulances by the NDC administration.

The case was adjourned after an accused person charged alongside Dr Forson, failed to show up in court.

Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak, who led a team of MPs to support Dr Forson, insists prosecution of NDC MPs will not affect their quest to hold government accountable.

“Nothing more than trying to intimidate the Minority out of their difficulties. But this is not going to change anything.
In fact, it makes us even more resolute because we know that the game is to intimidate, frustrate and think that they can weaken our spirit, no they can’t. In fact, they are rather strengthening and gluing us together.”, he told Joy News.

He also revealed his side had learnt of plans by government to prosecute some other NDC MPs, including Dr Dominic Ayine, MP for Bolga East and James Gyekye Quayson, MP for Assin North.

“You are bringing Quayson, criminalizing him when he wrote a letter to Electoral Commission before he filed. You are charging Akwatia MP. You can just see the frustration, you know you can just see the frustration and it’s so shameful, they forget there is a democracy,” he said.

The Attorney-General’s Office had earlier dismissed allegations by Dr Ato Forson that his prosecution was as a result of opposition to government’s electronic levy policy.

Read the full facts of the case against Dr Forson as has been filed in court by the A-G below;

“On December 22, 2011, Cabinet endorsed an Executive Approval that had been granted for a joint memorandum submitted by the Minister for Health and the Deputy Minister for Finance and Economic Planning for the purchase
of 200 ambulances for the National Ambulance Service (NAS), out of a medium-term loan facility of €15,800,000 to be paid out of a credit arrangement between Stanbic Bank Ghana Limited and government through the Ministry of Finance.

By a joint memorandum dated 30th April 2012, the Minister for Finance, Dr Kwabena Duffuor, and the Minister for Health, Alban S. K. Bagbin, applied for parliamentary approval for the supply of 200 ambulances at a price of
€15,800,000.00 to be paid out of a credit arrangement between Stanbic Bank Ghana Limited and Government through the Ministry of Finance.

This memorandum to Parliament did not make reference to any role to be played by either Big Sea General Trading Limited (Big Sea), Dubai, UAE or the agents for Big Sea, Jakpa at Business Limited in the transaction.

It also did not refer to the terms under which the ambulances would be procured or the terms under which the two companies would be involved in the transaction. On November 1, 2012, Parliament granted approval for the financing agreement between government and Stanbic Bank Ghana Limited for the procurement of the 200 ambulances.

By a letter dated 19th November 2012, the 2nd accused person, who was then the Chief Director at the Ministry of Health, requested approval from the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) to engage Big Sea through a process of
single-sourcing for the supply of 200 ambulances. The letter falsely indicated that the reason for the single-sourcing was because Big Sea had arranged for funding for the project.

By an agreement dated 19th December 2012, the Government of Ghana, represented by the Ministry of Health, formally contracted with Big Sea General Trading LLC, based in Dubai, for the supply of 200 Mercedes Benz
ambulances. The contract sum was €15,800,000 at a unit price of €79,000.

According to the terms of the contract, the contract was to become effective upon the signature of both parties of the contract and when all governmental and other approvals had been obtained by both parties.

The terms of delivery, as per the Agreement, were that the first consignment of 25 vehicles should be delivered within 120 days of execution of the agreement. The outstanding 175 vehicles were to be delivered in batches of 25 every 30 days thereafter. By the terms of the agreement, advance payment was prohibited.

Also, payment for the purchase price of €15,800,000.00 was to be by “raising an irrevocable and transferable Letter of Credit” from Government of Ghana’s bankers for the benefit of the Supplier. Upon delivery of every 50 ambulances, 25% of the purchase price was to be paid through confirmed letters of credit (LC) on sight of goods opened in favour of the supplier, upon submission of a number of documents specified in the agreement.

On 7th August 2014, the 1s accused person, Cassiel A. Forson wrote to the Bank of Ghana “urgently requesting … to establish the Letters of Credit for the supply of 50 ambulances amounting to€3,950,000 representing 25 per cent of the contract sum, while arrangements are being made to perfect and sign the Loan Agreement. … in favour of Big Sea.”

On 12th August 2014, the Is accused person wrote to the Controller and Accountant-General authorising the release of the sum of ¢806.688.75 to the Minister for Health to enable him to pay the bank charges covering the establishment of Letters of Credit (LCs) for the supply of 50 Mercedes Benz Ambulances and Related Services.

He further directed that the LCs should be charged to the budget of the Ministry of Health contrary to the Parliamentary approval on the funding for the supply of the ambulances. ‘The Controller and Accountant-General, on the authority of the letters dated 7th and 12th August 2014 written by the 1» accused person, wrote to the Bank
of Ghana on 14th August 2014, authorising it to establish an irrevocable transferable Letters of Credit in the sum of €3,950,000 in favour of Big Sea.

A consignment of 10 ambulances which was shipped from Dubai on October 22, 2014, arrived on 16′ December 2014. A post-delivery inspection of the first batch of 10 ambulances revealed that the same were without any medical equipment in them. Other fundamental defects included defects on the body of the vehicles and the patient compartment of the ambulances.

Same were brought to the attention of Big Sea in a letter dated 11’h February 2015 written by the 2nd accused, Sylvester Anemana,

By a reply dated 19th February 2015, Big Sea acknowledged the defects with the vehicles but indicated that they proceeded to ship the vehicles when they
received the LCs on 18th August 2014. The company also stated that the
second consignment of 10 vehicles with the same defects had been shipped
51 days before the date of the letter from the ministry. The company promised
to send their technicians to fix all issues relating to the defects and train
Ghanaian staff before handing over the ambulances.

The third batch of 10 vehicles were shipped on 12th February 2015. By this
time, the second batch had already arrived at the Tema Port. All the 30
ambulances had the same fundamental defects stated above. A further
inspection by Silver Star Auto Limited at the request of the Ministry of Health
disclosed that the vehicles were not originally built as ambulances and were
therefore not fit to be converted for that purpose.

A total amount of €2,370,000 was paid for the 30 vehicles.
The 3rd accused person as the local representative of Big Sea, knowing that
Big Sea had not shipped ambulances, still arranged with his principal to
supply the purported ambulances and contracted with Big Sea to charge a
commission of 28.5% on the proceeds of the supply of these vehicles
purported to be ambulances to the Government of Ghana.

By a letter dated January 20, 2016, the then Minister for Health, Mr. Alex
Segbefia, informed Big Sea that the vehicles did not meet ambulance
specifications and were not fit for purpose.

The Minister requested for an inspection of a well-equipped ambulance vehicle that meets specification by 20th February 2016.

Following this, a team led by the CEO of the National Ambulance Service
proceeded to Dubai and held an inspection on 11th February 2016. After the
visit to Dubai, Big Sea undertook to send a technical team to Ghana to rectify
the defects. This has not been done.”

The case relates to the procurement of some 200 ambulances by the Prof John Evans Atta Mills and John Mahama led governments. Documents filed by the AG’s office traces the events culminating into the alleged crimes from a 2009 announcement during a state of the national address of plans to procure ambulances for the country.

The AG says following this address, the Ministry of Health (MOH) initiated action to acquire more ambulances. The 3rd accused person, Richard Jakpa is said to have used his company Jakpa at Business, to present a proposal and term loan to MInistry of Health which he claimed to have arranged from Stanbic Bank to finance the supply of 200 ambulances to the Government.

Cabinet according to the AG endorsed an Executive approval for the project.

Read the full facts as narrated by the AG below

“On 22nd December, 2011, Cabinet endorsed an Executive Approval that had
been granted for a joint memorandum submitted by the Minister for Health
and the Deputy Minister for Finance and Economic Planning for the purchase
of two hundred (200) ambulances for the National Ambulance Service (NAS),
out of a medium term loan facility of fifteen million, eight hundred thousand
Euros (€15,800,000.00) to be paid out of a credit arrangement between
Stanbic Bank Ghana Limited and Government of Ghana through the Ministry
of Finance.

By a joint memorandum dated 30th April 2012, the Minister for Finance, Dr.
Kwabena Duffuor, and the Minister for Health, Alban S. K. Bagbin, applied
for parliamentary approval for the supply of 200 ambulances at a price of
€15,800,000.00 to be paid out of a credit arrangement between Stanbic Bank
Ghana Limited and Government of Ghana through the Ministry of Finance.
This memorandum to Parliament did not make reference to any role to be
played by either Big Sea General Trading Limited (Big Sea), Dubai, UAE or the
agents for Big Sea, Jakpa at Business Limited in the transaction.

It also did not refer to the terms under which the ambulances would be procured or the
terms under which the two companies would be involved in the transaction. On 1» November 2012, Parliament granted approval for the financing agreement between Government of Ghana and Stanbic Bank Ghana Limited for the procurement of the 200 ambulances.

By a letter dated 19th November 2012, the 2nd accused person, who was then
the Chief Director at the Ministry of Health requested approval from the
Public Procurement Authority (PPA) to engage Big Sea through a process of
single-sourcing for the supply of 200 ambulances. The letter falsely indicated
that the reason for the single-sourcing was because Big Sea had arranged for
funding for the project.

By an agreement dated 19th December 2012, the Government of Ghana,
represented by the Ministry of Health, formally contracted with Big Sea
General Trading LLC, based in Dubai, for the supply of 200 Mercedes Benz
ambulances. The contract sum was fifteen million, eight hundred thousand
Euros (€15,800,000.00) at a unit price of seventy-nine thousand Euros
(€79,000).

According to the terms of the contract, the contract was to become effective
upon the signature of both parties of the contract and when all governmental
and other approvals had been obtained by both parties.

The terms of delivery, as per the Agreement, were that the first consignment
of twenty-five (25) vehicles should be delivered within 120 days of execution
of the agreement. The outstanding one hundred and seventy-five (175)
vehicles were to be delivered in batches of 25 every thirty (30) days thereafter.
By the terms of the agreement, advance payment was prohibited. Also,
payment for the purchase price of €15,800,000.00 was to be by “raising an
irrevocable and transferable Letter of Credit” from Government of Ghana’s
bankers for the benefit of the Supplier. Upon delivery of every 50 ambulances,
25% of the purchase price was to be paid through confirmed letters of credit
(LC) on sight of goods opened in favour of the supplier, upon submission of a
number of documents specified in the agreement.

On 7th August 2014, the 1s accused person, Cassiel A. Forson wrote to the
Bank of Ghana “urgently requesting … to establish the Letters of Credit for the
supply of 50 ambulances amounting to EUR3, 950,000 representing 25 percent
of the contract sum, while arrangements are being made to perfect and sign the
loan Agreement. … in favour of Big Sea”

On 12th August 2014, the Is accused person wrote to the Controller and
Accountant-General authorising the release of the sum of GHC806.688.75
(Eight Hundred and Six Thousand, Six Hundred and Eighty-Eight Ghana
Cedis, Seventy-Five Ghana Pesewas) to the Minister for Health to enable him
pay the bank charges covering the establishment of Letters of Credit (LCs) for
the supply of 50 Mercedes Benz Ambulances and Related Services.

He further directed that the LCs should be charged to the budget of the Ministry of Health
contrary to the Parliamentary approval on the funding for the supply of the
ambulances.

‘The Controller and Accountant-General, on the authority of the letters dated
7th and 12th August 2014 written by the 1» accused person, wrote to the Bank
of Ghana on 14th August 2014, authorising it to establish an irrevocable
transferable Letters of Credit in the sum of €3,950,000 in favour of Big Sea

A consignment of 10 ambulances which was shipped from Dubai on 22nd October 2014 arrived on 16′ December 2014. A post-delivery inspection of the first batch of 10 ambulances revealed that same were without any medical equipment in them. Other fundamental defects included defects on the body of the vehicles and the patient compartment of the ambulances.

Same were brought to the attention of Big Sea in a letter dated 11’h February 2015 written
by the 2nd accused, Sylvester Anemana, By a reply dated 19th February 2015, Big Sea acknowledged the defects with the vehicles but indicated that they proceeded to ship the vehicles when they received the LCs on 18th August 2014. The company also stated that the second consignment of 10 vehicles with the same defects had been shipped 51 days before the date of the letter from the ministry. The company promised to send their technicians to fix all issues relating to the defects and train Ghanaian staff before handing over the ambulances.

The third batch of 10 vehicles were shipped on 12th February 2015. By this time, the second batch had already arrived at the Tema Port. All the 30 ambulances had the same fundamental defects stated above. A further inspection by Silver Star Auto Limited at the request of the Ministry of Health disclosed that the vehicles were not originally built as ambulances and were therefore not fit to be converted for that purpose.

A total amount of €2,370,000 was paid for the 30 vehicles. The 3rd accused person as the local representative of Big Sea, knowing that Big Sea had not shipped ambulances, still arranged with his principal to supply the purported ambulances and contracted with Big Sea to charge a commission of 28.5% on the proceeds of the supply of these vehicles
purported to be ambulances to the Government of Ghana.

By a letter dated January 20, 2016, the then Minister for Health, Mr. Alex Segbefia, informed Big Sea that the vehicles did not meet ambulance specifications and were not fit for purpose.

The Minister requested for an inspection of a well-equipped ambulance vehicle that meets specification by 20th February 2016.

Following this, a team led by the CEO of the National Ambulance Service
proceeded to Dubai and held an inspection on 11th February 2016. After the
visit to Dubai, Big Sea undertook to send a technical team to Ghana to rectify
the defects. This has not been done.”

Source: myjoyonline.com

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