The fourth prosecution witness in the trial of former Deputy Finance Minister Dr Cassiel Ato Forson was taken through cross-examination by the defence counsel on Tuesday, August 30, 2022.
The current Health Minister, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, has testified for the State in the case in which Mr Ato Forson and two others have been accused of causing a 2.3 million euro loss to the State in the purchase of ambulances.
In his testimony, the Health Minister told the Court hearing the matter that Dr Forson played a key role in processes leading to advance payment for the ambulances contrary to the clear terms of the contract for payment to be made upon delivery.
The ambulances, when it was delivered, were deemed defective, a situation the State believes would not have happened if the terms of the contract had been followed.
On Tuesday, the defence lawyer led by Abdul Aziz Bamba disagreed with Mr Agyeman-Manu’s testimony.
This resulted in a banter between the witness and the defence counsel.
Whereas the defence counsel maintained that payments under Letters of Credit for the purchase were made based on requisite documents, the witness disagreed.
Read highlights of Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu’s cross-examination below:
SOME KEY POINTS FROM TODAY’S PROCEEDINGS IN COURT
- Counsel for Ato Forson suggests that, under the agreement, LCs were to be established only when documents had been seen.
Agyeman-Manu replies that he had not seen any documents by which Ato Forson was justified in requesting for payment to be made.
- Counsel for Ato Forson suggests that first accused did not authorise payment.
Agyeman-Manu disagrees and refers to letters written by first accused, showing that he requested for LCs to be established.
He further indicates that the means of payment for the transaction was by LCs. So requesting for LCs to be established means you are authorising payment.
- Counsel refers to letter written by Deputy Controller and Accountant-General asking for LCs to be established.
Witness replied that, the letter by the Deputy Controller and Accountant-General referred to the letter written by Ato Forson as the authority for payment. So, he actually authorized payment.
- Counsel for Ato Forson suggests that he ,Agyeman-Manu rejected the ambulances.
Agyeman-Manu says that he did not reject the ambulances. His predecessors in the Health Ministry had rejected the ambulances because they were not fit for purpose.
- Counsel for Ato Forson suggests that one of the Ministers who rejected the ambulances was Alex Segbefia.
- Counsel for Ato Forson suggests that in the opinion of the Attorney-General, the contract was valid and binding.
- Counsel for Ato Forson suggests to Agyeman-Manu that the Minister for Health was bound by the A-G’s advice.
Agyeman-Manu says that Ministers are to take the advice but not to be bound by same.
And in this particular case, Sherry Aryittey, Minister for Health at the time wrote back to say that her ministry did not have funds to pay for the transaction and therefore could not execute same.
- Counsel for Ato Forson suggests that the BoG invited the Minstry of Health to approve of payment for the transaction.
Agyeman-Manu replies that, the document referred to by counsel is rather an invitation by BOG for MoH to come and inspect shipping documents received by them.