High Court orders Ato Forson to file witness statement by May 4

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Dr Ato Forson
Dr Ato Forson

Minority Leader Cassiel Ato Forson has been ordered by the high court to file his witness statements by 4 May 2023 in the case in which he is accused to have caused financial loss to the state in the procurement of some ambulances while he was a deputy minister of finance.

Mr Forson and his co-accused persons, had prayed the court to file their witness statements.

The minority leader’s lawyer, however, told the court on Tuesday, 18 April 2023 that his client had not been able to conference with some of the witnesses and, thus, prayed the court for more time to do so.

The trial judge, Justice Afia Serwaa Asare-Botwe granted Mr Ato Forson more time even though she wondered why he did not take advantage of various means of communication and technology to gather all the information needed to file his statements.

Mr Forson’s co-accused persons, Mr Seth Anemana, a former Chief Director of the Ministry of Health; and Mr Richard Jakpa, a businessman, are also calling six and five witnesses, respectively.

The court also granted a disclosure application by Ato Forson for a warrant of payment which he claims details the person who authorized the payments.

At the last sitting date, the court ordered Mr Forson and the two others to open their defence in the case.

Dr Forson, who was a deputy minister of finance at the time the alleged unusable ambulances were procured, has been charged with wilfully causing financial loss to the state along with the two others.

“If you have spent money on a vehicle that cannot be used, then there is a case to be answered,” Justice Asare-Botwe ruled in court.

Dr Forson, as deputy minister, is said to have written a letter to the Bank of Ghana to establish letters of credit for the purchase of 50 ambulances at a cost of €3,950,000, representing 25 per cent of the contract sum while arrangements were being made to perfect and sign the loan agreement … “in favour of Big Sea”.

A total amount of €2,370,000 has been paid for the 30 defective ambulances.

Dr Forson is also alleged to have written to the Controller and Accountant-General, authorising the release of the sum of GH¢806,688.75 to the Minister of Health to enable him to pay the bank charges covering the cost establishment of the LC for the supply of 50 Mercedes Benz Ambulance and Related Services.

While the Attorney General contended that Dr Forson did not have the authority to write such a letter, the former deputy minister of finance insisted he did.

With regard to that letter, Justice Asare-Botwe said: “It is a misapprehension of the law to state that the AG should have called Seth Terkper to prove that Dr Ato Forson did not have the authorisation to write the said letter.”

The court said once the AG stated that Dr Forson did not have such authority and Dr Forson replied that he had authority, the responsibility was on Dr Forson to show that he had authority.

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