Ato Forson Trial: Government Never Accepted The Offer Letter From Stanbic Bank – Witness4 min read
Head of Dispute Resolution and Litigation at the Stanbic Bank Ghana Limited, Henry Myles-Mills, says the government never accepted the offer letter drafted by the Bank regarding the facility for the sale and purchase of 200 ambulances.
“This agreement between the two parties was never executed because the two parties could not agree on favourable terms,” he added.
He said the government, through the Ministry of Health, approached the Bank to assist with the purchase of these ambulances and there were two possible types of facilities regarding the letter of credit and term loan.
Mr Myles-Mills, who is the first defence witness for Dr Ato Forson, was subpoenaed by lawyers of Dr Forson to testify on his behalf.
Dr Forson and two others have been variously charged with willfully causing financial loss to the State to the tune of €2.37 million in the purchase of ambulances.
The other two are Dr Seth Anemana, a former Chief of Director, Ministry of Health and Mr Richard Dzakpa, a businessman.
The defence witness said the proposed agreement between the government and the Bank was for letters of credit facility and not a term loan as at the time of drafting the offer letter.
He explained that under a letter of credit facility, a Bank extended a credit line to the borrower, which was used to pay directly for goods supplied by a third party when it reached its maturity stage.
He told the Court that he drafted the offer letter in the transaction between the two parties.
The Head of Dispute Resolution said the offer letter contained all the commercial terms of the agreement, the parties involved and conditions.
In cross-examination, Mr Alex Owiredu Dankwa, lead Counsel for Dr Anemana, asked the witness whether they received any reply from the government and the witness answered in the affirmative.
He said they received a commentary response from the then Attorney General, who raised a lot of issues regarding the agreement.
Before the adjournment of the matter, Mr Dzakpa, however, incurred the wrath of the Court after he reacted angrily to Justice Afia Serwaa Asare Botwe’s decision to let him use a washroom within the cell area of the Court.
This was to save him from stepping out of the Courtroom to the public washrooms within the premises.
When Dr Dzakpa came back from the washroom, the Judge offered him hand sanitiser, but he refused the offer murmuring that he did not need it.
Justice Asare Botwe, therefore, issued a stern warning to the accused person not to ever repeat that behaviour in her court again otherwise she would employ her full powers.
Dr Forson was granted a self-recognisance bail of GH¢3 million for allegedly willfully causing a financial loss of 2. 37 million Euros to the State.
He is also facing an additional charge of “Intentionally misapplying public property contrary to section 1 (2) of the Public Property Protection Act, 1977 (SMCD 140).”
Dr Anemana has also been granted bail in the sum of one million Ghana Cedis with three sureties, one of whom shall be a public servant not below the rank of a director.
Mr Dzakpa is also on five million Ghana Cedis bail with three sureties, one of whom must be justified with documents of landed property.
Dr Forson, a former Deputy Minister of Health, and a Ranking Member on the Finance Committee of Parliament, and the two others, according to the prosecution, breached the procurement law in the purchase of ambulances.
On August 7, 2014, Dr 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, while arrangements were being made to perfect and sign the loan agreement in favour of Big Sea”.
This represented 25 per cent of the contract sum.
On August 12, 2014, Dr Forson wrote to the Controller and Accountant-General authorising the release of GH¢806,688.75 to the Minister for Health for the payment of bank charges covering the establishment of Letters of Credit (LCs) for the supply of 50 Mercedes Benz ambulances and related services.
The facts indicated that Dr Forson 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 August 7 and 12, 2014, written by Dr Forson to the Central Bank, authorised it to establish an irrevocable transferable LCs in the sum of €3,950,000 in favour of Big Sea.
By February 2015, 30 ambulances had arrived in Ghana but a post-delivery inspection revealed that they had no medical equipment and had other defects.
A further inspection by Silver Star Auto, at the request of the Ministry of Health, revealed that the vehicles were not originally built as ambulances and were not fit to be converted for that purpose.
A total amount of €2,370,000 was paid for the 30 vehicles.
Dr Forson has denied any wrongdoing.