I did not authorize payment, I only requested issuance of letters of credit on authority of my Minister – Ato Forson

Dr Cassiel Ato Forson was the Deputy Finance Minister when the deal was sealed
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The Member of Parliament for Ajumako-Enyan-Esiam Constituency, Casiel Ato Forson has denied willfully causing financial loss to the state.

He said he did not authorize any payment hence cannot be held liable.

At a press conference Accra on Friday December 24, he said “My only job in the entire transaction was to request the issuance of letters of credit on the authority of the Minister responsible for Finance at the time.

“A letter of credit is a letter from a bank guaranteeing that a buyer’s payment to a seller will be received on time and for the correct amount, and in the event that the buyer is unable to make the payment on the purchase the bank will be required to cover the remaining amount of the purchase.

“Letters of credits are not payments , I did not authorize payments and I dare ask the government to prove where I did authorize payments for the said purchases of the ambulances. Unless somebody tells me they don’t understand the meaning of letter of credit , it is just a guarantee and not a payment itself.”

The Ranking Member of the Finance Committee of Parliament  together with two others, has been dragged to the High Court on five counts of willfully causing financial loss to the state.

According to the facts of the case, Dr Ato Forson, when he was a Deputy Finance Minister under the Mahama administration, executed a contract by the government of Ghana to purchase some 200 ambulances for the National Ambulance Service.

Despite the granting of a medium term loan facility of €15.8 million for the 200 ambulances, only 10 were shipped to Ghana in 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,” the writ noted.

The two other accused are Sylvester Anemana, who was a Chief Director at the Ministry of Health, and Richard Jakpa, the Ghana representative of Dubai-based Big Sea General Trading Limited.

While Sylvester Anemana has been charged for abetment of crime namely wilfully causing financial loss to the state contrary to Sections 20(1) and 179A(3)(a) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 and breaching the Public Procurement Act, Richard Jakpa is on a charge of wilfully causing financial loss to the state “by intentionally causing vehicles purporting to be ambulances to be supplied tot he Republic of Ghana by Big Sea General Trading Ltd of Dubai without due cause”.

Mr Ato Forson, who is the first accused, has additionally been charged for intentionally misapplying public property contrary to section 1(2) of the Public Property Protection Act, 1977.

He is said to have misapplied €2.37 million by causing irrevocable Letters of Credit to be established against the budget of the Ministry of Health in favour of the Dubai-based firm.

The charges were brought against the three by the state.

By Laud Nartey|3news.com|Ghana