Ambulance Case: Businessman Denies Charges

Richard Jakpa


Businessman in the ‘defective’ ambulance trial, Richard Jakpa, has denied the charge of wilfully causing financial loss to the state leveled against him by the Office of the Attorney-General, asserting that his firm, Jakpa Business Limited (JBL), has no business relationship with the government.

According to him, JBL only presented a proposal to the government which it could have rejected, indicating that when the government decided to procure the ambulances, it could have contracted JBL as its agent to procure the ambulances, but it rather contracted Big Sea which then chose to retain JBL as its agent.

“I say also that the claim by the prosecution’s witnesses that JBL and me should be treated as one and the same is completely untenable. There is no allegation, let alone evidence, to prove that I used JBL as a façade to defraud the government, which had nothing to do with me or JBL in so far as the transaction which is the reason for which I am being prosecuted is concerned,” the businessman told a High Court in Accra yesterday.

Mr. Jakpa is before the court together with Minority Leader and former Deputy Finance Minister, Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson, for allegedly causing €2.37 million financial loss to the state through a contract to purchase 200 ambulances for the Health Ministry.

The accused, in his defence reiterated that in so far as the establishment of Letters of Credits and payment for the ambulances are concerned, JBL and him as its sole shareholder and Chairman, had no obligation and assumed no responsibility even as an exclusive agent.

He said the production of the ambulances delayed, which affected the specifications and delivery time because the Ministry of Health (MOH) failed to carry out the pre-shipment inspection, and the Ministry of Finance (MOF) failed to raise the Letters of Credit on time.

“Government also refused to respond to at least 26 different correspondences which were sent to the Ghana MOH during the manufacturing process of the first 30 ambulances, requesting for pre-delivery inspection by the technical team, but no responses came from Ghana’s MOH,” Mr. Jakpa asserted.

He also told the court that by no strain of the facts or of the meaning of the offence of wilfully causing financial loss to the state, can it be said that by just presenting a proposal to the government to consider, JBL caused loss to any public body or agency.

“In so far as the presentation of the proposal to the MOH is concerned, it was for the government to decide whether it will purchase the ambulances on the basis of JBL’s proposal or not. The proposal by itself is not a contract and as such cannot cause any loss or damage to anybody or agency of the Republic even remotely or directly.”

Mr. Jakpa further told the court that it is clear from the particulars of the offence charged against him that the government has itself admitted that the ambulances were supplied to Ghana.

“The point I make here is that since it is admitted that the ambulances were indeed supplied to the government of Ghana, it cannot be honestly said that the government sustained financial loss when the government has accepted or taken possession of the ambulances; and indicated no intention whatsoever of terminating the contract.

He added that the prosecution did not adduce any “scintilla of evidence to support its contention that JBL caused the shipment of the ambulances to Ghana by Big Sea which was already bound by contract to deliver the ambulances to the government by ensuring their shipment to Ghana.”

The court, presided over by Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe, has adjourned the case to May 16, 2024 for Mr. Jakpa to conclude his evidence after which he would be cross-examined.

BY Gibril Abdul Razak