Ato Forson’s Fate Hangs As AG Closes Case

Ato Forson


An Accra High Court will on March 30, 2023, decide whether or not the Attorney General has made a case against former Deputy Minister of Finance under the John Mahama administration, Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson and two other persons for them to open their defence.

The prosecution yesterday closed its case after the defence lawyers concluded their cross-examination of the case investigator, Rockson Gyimah.

Dr. Ato Forson, Sylvester Anemana, a former Chief Director at the Ministry of Health, as well as private businessman, Richard Jakpa, are standing trial for allegedly wilfully causing financial loss of €2.37 million to the state, through a contract to purchase 200 ambulances for the Ministry of Health.

The accused persons made their first appearance before the court presided over by Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe, a Court of Appeal judge sitting as an additional High Court judge, on January 18, 2022, and pleaded not guilty to the five counts of wilfully causing financial loss to the state, abetment of crime, contravention of Public Procurement Act and intentionally misapplying public property.

While Dr. Forson was granted a GH¢3 million self-reconnaissance bail, Mr. Anemana was granted a bail of GH¢1 million with three sureties, one whom must be a public servant not below the rank of a Director.

Mr. Jakpa, on the other hand, was granted a bail of GH¢5 million bail with three sureties, one of whom must be justified with documents of a landed property.

The prosecution, led by the Attorney General,  Godfred Yeboah Dame and Director of Public Prosecutions, Yvonne Atakora-Obuobisa, called five witness, including the Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu to prove its case.

The court, after the close of the prosecution’s case, ordered the parties to file their submissions by March 16, while the case was adjourned to March 30, 2023, for ruling on whether the prosecution made a prima facie case against the accused persons to open their defence.


Letters of Credit

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.”

The minister 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 investigator, Rockson Gyimah, while under cross-examination, indicated that former Minister of Finance, Seth Terkper, has not admitted authorising Dr. Forson to compose the letter which led the Controller and Accountant General to write to the Bank of Ghana requesting the establishment of a Letters of Credit (LC) for the purchase of the defective ambulances.

According to him, although Mr. Terkper never denied knowledge of the establishment of the LC, he never admitted authorising the former Deputy Minister to compose the letter that led to its establishment.


BY Gibril Abdul Razak