Government says the assets of businessman Alfred Agbesi Woyome may not be enough to offset his debt to the state.
Mr. Woyome who was wrongfully paid a total of 51.2 million cedis by the State as judgement bebt, was ordered by the Supreme Court in 2014 to refund the amount, and has since paid back only 4.6 million cedis.
Efforts by the State to retrieve the the money has been thwarted by several legal impediments from the businessman said to be a financier of the National Democratic Congress.
The African Court on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) in November 2017 directed to halt any attempt to seize properties of Mr. Woyome.
The Tanzania-based court asked Ghana’s Attorney General to “take all appropriate measures to maintain the status quo and avoid the property being sold’’ until a case brought before it by Woyome was determined.
But the Supreme Court again on November 18, 2017 State Attorneys the green light to continue all processes to retrieve the GHC51.2 million illegally paid to the businessman who has almost exhausted the country’s legal processes.
At the Public Accounts hearing last week, it emerged that Mr. Woyome has in the last four years when the initial Supreme Court order was given, refunded only 4.6 million cedis.
Speaking on 3FM’s Sunrise morning show Monday, Deputy Attorney General Joseph Kpemka said government has identified some assets of Woyome, which they intend to auction and use the proceeds to defray the debt
“To the best of my knowledge, it may not be enough to offset the entire debt,” he revealed, but said efforts are still in place to identify more of his assets both within and outside the country.
He said: “We are still looking for other assets of his within and outside of the jurisdiction, as and when they are available, we should be able to do with it”.
Mr. Kpemka said despite the fact that Mr. Woyome has challenged the AG at many courts, they will go ahead to retrieve the debt for which reason they are prepared to go every length to recover the debt.
“He had to fight us at …in Tanzania, he had to fight us at ECOWAS, he had to fight us at the Supreme Court. He took us everywhere on earth, and the chicken has come home to roost, and he’s lost everything…very clearly, the highest Court of the land has spoken, and he has to abide by that,” he said.
Mr Woyome obtained the amount on claims that he helped Ghana to raise funds for the construction of stadia the CAN 2008 Nations Cup hosted by Ghana.
An Auditor General’s report released in 2010, however said the amount was paid illegally to the businessman.
The former AG, who has earned the accolade citizen vigilante for his anti-corruption pursuit, suo moto [on his own] initiated a suit at the Supreme Court against Woyome, which eventually lead to the declaration of the payment as unconstitutional two years ago.
The Court thus ordered the retrieval of GHC51.2 million from Mr Woyome but the businessman took legal steps to justify he deserved the money paid him.
On July 29, 2014 the Supreme Court ordered the businessman to refund the GH¢51.2 million judgement debt which was paid to him between 2009 and 2010.
According to the court, Mr Woyome had no valid contract with the state and, therefore, did not deserve the money paid him.
The legal action which gave rise to the judgement was initiated by a former A-G, Mr Martin Amidu.
Since the judgement, Mr Amidu had mounted a number of legal warfares to ensure that Mr Woyome refunded the money to the state.
In 2016, he filed an action at the Supreme Court to be given the opportunity to orally examine Mr Woyome over how he (Woyome) intended to repay the money.
The move was after the then A-G had discontinued the request to orally examine the businessman after the two parties had agreed on a payment module in which Mr Woyome paid GH¢4 million.
Although the Supreme Court granted his prayer, Mr Amidu abandoned the oral examination when the New Patriotic Party (NPP) won the 2016 elections.
According to him, the NPP had promised to retrieve the money as a matter of urgency and, therefore, there was the need for him to give the government the space to do so.
By Irene Amesimeku|3news.com|Ghana