Former Finance Minister, Seth Terkper, testified before an Economic and Financial Court in Accra, affirming that he authorized his then Deputy, Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson, to communicate with the Bank of Ghana for the Letters of Credit.
The Letters of Credit (LCs) were specifically intended to facilitate the procurement of 30 ambulances from Big Sea General Trading Ltd of Dubai.
The testimony, in a case implicating Minority Leader Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson and two others, highlighted that the authorization was granted during a Special Management Meeting at the Finance Ministry. Seth Terkper stressed that the directive was issued after the receipt of a legal opinion from the Attorney General and the Ministry’s legal department.
The aim was to ensure the successful execution of a contract between the Government of Ghana and Big Sea for the supply of 200 ambulances, to prevent potential judgment debt that might have been incurred had Big Sea chosen to litigate against the government due to prolonged delays and breaches of the contract.
Terkper Denies Attorney General’s Case
Contrary to claims made by the current Attorney General, Seth Terkper asserted that the allegations suggesting that Dr. Ato Forson initiated the setup of the LCs without appropriate cause and authorization were baseless. Elaborating further, Terkper underscored that he had received a legal opinion from the Attorney General in 2014, emphasizing that failure to execute the contract with Big Sea could lead to judgment debt if the latter opted to pursue legal action over the protracted delays and breaches of contract by the Government of Ghana.
According to Terkper, the Attorney General’s opinion explicitly confirmed that all necessary governmental approvals had been secured for the contract, rendering the opinion binding on all government entities involved in the transaction. He elucidated that the establishment of the LCs was subject to an “approval basis,” which required the Ministry of Health to signal their endorsement of the documentation provided by Big Sea, demonstrating the shipment of the ambulances. Only upon their satisfaction with the fulfilment of all conditions by Big Sea, would the Ministry of Health authorize the Bank of Ghana to proceed with the payment under the LCs.
Highlighting the distinction between the establishment of the LCs, falling under the purview of the Finance Ministry, and the subsequent payment process, which necessitated approval from the Ministry of Health, Terkper raised concerns about how the Ministry of Finance could be held responsible for any defects in the ambulances. He emphasized that it was the responsibility of the Ministry of Health to ascertain the state and condition of the procured ambulances.
The case involves Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson, Dr. Sylvester Anemana, a former Chief Director of the Ministry of Health, and businessman Richard Jakpa, who are facing trial in connection with the importation of the 30 ambulances. Their trial has brought attention to the intricacies and complexities of government transactions and the need for precise authorization and compliance with legal procedures.
Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson, Dr. Sylvester Anemana a former Chief Director of the Ministry of Health and Businessman, Richard Jakpa are standing trial in connection with the importation of the 30 ambulances. Their actions resulted in the country losing $2.4 million after 30 ambulances were procured in 2014 by the Ministry of Health but were later found faulty. Reports indicate after the purchase of the 200 ambulances, the government suspended the deal after the ones that had been delivered did not meet the required specifications.
The Minority Leader, Ato Forson, has particularly come under massive public scrutiny for his involvement in the issue came up.
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