Embattled National Democratic Congress (NDC) financier Alfred Agbesi Woyome, has been booted out of the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce Secretariat in France where he was trying to stop the Ghana government from collecting GH¢51.2 million he dubiously took from the state.
The court wrote to the Attorney General, Gloria Akuffo, her deputy, Godfred Yeboah Dame and some top officials at the AG’s Department involved in the case, as well as the foreign lawyers, representing Mr. Woyome, saying that the case could not proceed.
Mr. Woyome was thrown out on the basis that he did not have the basic requirement to seek redress at the ICC.
“On 3 August, 2017, the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce (“Court”) decided that the arbitration cannot proceed [Article 6 (4)],” Tunde Ogunseitan, Counsel for the International Court of Arbitration, stated in the letter.
The court further fixed the ICC administrative expenses paid by Mr. Woyome at $5,000 which it said “is non-refundable payment already made by the claimant.”
The court said it was in the process of reimbursing Mr. Woyome $95,000 he had paid in the initial stages and added that it was waiting for receipt of bank instructions from the dismissed claimant.
Mr. Woyome, obviously embarrassed by the outcome of the ICC decision in Paris, France, issued another statement yesterday through a spokesperson admitting that his case did not meet minimum requirement of the ICC for arbitration, adding, “Any decision, apart from the above, would have surprised this office.”
The beleaguered NDC businessman said much as he anticipated the decision of the court for rubbishing his petition, it came at a substantial cost ($5,000) to him in terms of legal fees.
The statement underscored, “Any decision apart from the above would have surprised this office. What the decision actually means is that Alfred Agbesi Woyome is not a signatory to/beneficiary of the 2006 Waterville Contracts with the Government of Ghana and cannot therefore come before the ICC for arbitration based on those Contracts.”
He, however, said the Supreme Court’s review that affirmed the order by the court to pay the much-talked-about money was an infringement on his human rights and that aspect of the case was before the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights based in Arusha, Tanzania.
“A preliminary determination of the case has been made and a prima facie case has been established by the African Court in favour of Alfred Agbesi Woyome and Ghana has been served all the necessary processes through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ghana,” the statement averred.
When reached on phone, Deputy Attorney General, Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame, said he had not yet seen Woyome’s statement, but indicated that if the processes had been served on the government, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was going to forward them to the AG.
He said per the court’s rules, a respondent has 90 days to file a response and that the government was within time to file those processes.
In April, Mr. Woyome filed an application before the ICC seeking to restrain the government from pursuing him over the much-touted GH¢51.2 million, which has almost become a reference point for official corruption on the political scene.
The secretariat of the international court, in a letter of March 21, 2017 with reference JRF-CJ, acknowledged receipt of Mr Woyome’s application for arbitration.
The international body said it received the documents on March 20.
He had filed the application on March 17, and a letter signed by Jose Ricardo Feris, Deputy Secretary General of the ICC International Court of Arbitration, said, “Pursuant to Article 4(2) of the ICC Rules of Arbitration in force as from 1 March, 2017 (Rules), this arbitration commenced on that date.”
The case had the title, ‘Alfred Agbesi Woyome (Ghana) vs/ Republic of Ghana (Ghana)’ with case reference 22679/TO.
Mr Woyome was then asked to include the accurate caption and reference in all future correspondences.
On filing fee, the secretariat said, “We have received a cheque for the non-refundable filing fee from Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, who are representing Mr Woyome and was asked to confirm within five days from the day following receipt of this correspondence.
“Please be informed that should the confirmation not be considered as satisfactory by the bank pursuant to its legal obligations under French law, the payment received by ICC may be canceled and the lack of relevant information reported to the relevant authorities.”
Reaction From AG’s Department
A source at the office of the Solicitor General in the Attorney General’s Department at the time had confirmed that the government was aware of Mr Woyome’s action but was not certain if the processes had been officially served on the AG.
The source had indicated that the AG was not going to waste time in filing a response if the processes were served on the government because they were confident the case would be thrown out.
Before the crucial 2016 general elections – which the then ruling NDC lost massively to the New Patriotic Party (NPP) – the Mahama-led government made Ghanaians to believe that Woyome had started paying back the GH¢51.2 million in installments.
Woyome himself at a news conference told Ghanaians that he had started making payments in installments.
Payments to Woyome was authorised by then Attorney General, Betty Mould Iddrisu, and her deputy, Ebo Barton-Odro, against the directive of former President John Evans Atta Mills.
In November 2016 in the heat of the electioneering campaign, Mr Woyome announced that he had refunded GH¢4 million to the state, adding that it represented part payment of the GH¢51.2 million he owed.
He said his lawyers had promised to pay the outstanding balance by quarterly installments of GH¢5 million, commencing April 1, 2017.
Immediate-past Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Marietta Brew Appiah-Opong, as a result, filed an application at the Supreme Court to discontinue the request for oral examination of Mr Woyome at the instance of former AG Martin A.B.K Amidu, who had been pursuing the embattled NDC financier to pay back the money.
A letter dated November 7, 2016 and signed by a Chief State Attorney, Dorothy Afriyie-Ansah, acknowledged receipt of a cheque for GH¢4 million from Woyome and the receipt was witnessed by the Solicitor General, Helen Ziwu.
On April 6, 2016, the then Attorney General initiated garnishee proceedings against the managers of the ADB, uniBank (Ghana) Limited and UT Bank – bankers of Mr Woyome.
According to the former AG, the garnishee had yielded the following amounts – GH¢966.58; GH¢29,515.95; GH¢1,008.70, US$98.17; US$32,779.68; US$223.08 and €1,226.72 – which have since been paid into the bank account of the Attorney General’s Office at the Bank of Ghana (BoG).
Mr Woyome was being pursued vigorously by former Attorney General Martin ABK Amidu, known for his anti-corruption exploits, when it became clear that the NDC government was not willing to take the money from him (Woyome).
Mr Amidu, popularly called Citizen Vigilante, had secured judgement at the Supreme Court that the huge amount of money paid to Woyome by the NDC government was illegally done.
It was when the NDC lost the election to the NPP that Mr Amidu announced in court that he had withdrawn his case against Mr. Woyome to allow the new government to retrieve the money.
By William Yaw Owusu