Court orders Abuga Pele to open defence in GH₵4.1m malfeasance case

Abuga Pele
Abuga Pele

A Financial Court, a division of the High Court, on Friday ordered Abuga Pele and another to open their defence in respect of a GH₵4.1 million malfeasance case against them.

The order came after the Court had ruled that the state had established a prema facie case against Pele and Philip Akpeena Assibit, a representative of Goodwill International Ghana (GIG), in respect of 19 counts of defrauding by false pretenses, abatement of crime, dishonesty and intentionally misapplying public funds and willfully causing financial loss to the state.

Pele, who is a former Co-ordinator of the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP),  and Assibit are expected to open their defence on July 13 before the Court presided over by Mrs Justice Afia S. Asare- Botwe.

Assibit has been accused by State for allegedly putting in false claims that he had secured a $65-million World Bank funding for the creation of one million jobs for the youth, resulting in the government parting with GH¢4.1 million.

In the case of Pele, the State contends that he is alleged to have abetted with Assibit in a manner, which resulted in the loss to the State.

Pele has pleaded not guilty to two counts of abetment of crime, intentionally misapplying public property; and five counts of willfully causing financial loss to the State.

Assibit has also pleaded not guilty to six counts of defrauding by false pretences and five counts of dishonestly causing loss to public property.

Pele has been granted a self-recognisance bail, while Assibit was admitted to a GH¢2 million bail, with four sureties, two to be justified.
The two, after prosecution had called seven witnesses to make their case, put in a submission of no case against them.

Ruling on the submission of no case, the Court noted that indeed Assibit made a fraudulent representation to Pele as a consultant.

Also Assibit made a representation that as a management consultant he had pre-financed the said World Bank  programmes and lured Pele to believing that and as such needed to be paid by the government.

The Court said evidence had led to the fact that the state is yet to secure any grant noting that the “programme was at a preparatory stage.”

The Court noted that some documents produced during the trial indicated that Assibit took credit for no work done, adding that no money was secured by him (Assibit) for the NYEP programme.

The Court also cited that the alteration of some documents and differences and similarities of other documents and invoices produced by the prosecution during the trial.

The Court ruled that Pele would have to prove on oath that he was not responsible for the loss and that Attorney General should establish that he acted in excess and that brought about a loss to the State.

Mr Karl Adongo, who represented Pele, said he would consult his client so they know the number of witnesses to call. In the case of Mr Raymond Bagnabu, who represented Assibit, they would be calling four defence witnesses.

The facts of the case as presented earlier by Mrs Evelyn Keelson, a senior Attorney, were that in 2009, Pele, on assumption of office as the National Co-ordinator of the NYEP, entered into a contract with Assibit.

Under the terms of the agreement, the NYEP was described as the ‘host’, while the GIG was tagged as the ‘strategic partner’.

According to the prosecution, the parties agreed to combine their labour, properties and skills for the purpose of engaging in resource mobilisation, investor sourcing, management consulting, capacity building, career development, training services, among other jobs.

Per the agreement, the GIG was responsible for resource mobilisation and undertook to provide preliminary funds for the development of the programme, while the parties agreed to equally share the profits that would accrue out of the agreement.

“Meanwhile, there is nothing on record in terms of business proposals or documents forming the basis of engaging the GIG as a strategic partner,” the prosecution stated.

Assibit, from May 2011- May 2012, “made a number of payment claims for consultancy services he claimed to have rendered to the NYEP, ranging from the provision of exit plan and strategy for all NYEP modules, and the establishment of a Youth Enterprise Development Project.

In securing approval for a World Bank facility of $65 million for the NYEP, he claimed to have used, recruited and trained 250 youth to support the implementation of what he referred to as the World Bank-funded Youth Enterprise Development Programme (YEDP),” prosecution said.

Mrs Keelson told the Court that the representations put forward by Assibit were supported by Pele, who used them as the basis for justifying, recommending and approving a total amount of GH₵ 3,330, 568.53, the equivalent of $ 1,948,626.68, to Assibit, claiming among others that, Assibit’s work had directly resulted in a World Bank support of $65 million for the NYEP.

“Meanwhile, investigations revealed that all these representations were false,” she said adding that investigations revealed that the GIG was never appointed a consultant to the NYEP.

The prosecution said Assibit had failed to provide any exit plan and strategy for the NYEP modules adding that Assibit had again not conducted any financial engineering for the approval of a World Bank facility of $65 million, as he had claimed and had been corroborated by Pele.

“Indeed, there has not been any approval by the World Bank of $65 million for the NYEP,” the prosecution said, adding that investigations also discovered that in August 2012, Assibit was paid an additional GH₵ 835,000 cedis under the guise of what was referred to as “tracer studies” for the World Bank as the last requirement needed to be met for the approval of the $65 million facility.

Mrs Keelson said Assibit’s claims on the tracer studies were also supported by Pele and grounded upon which Pele approved the payment of the amount to Assibit.

Prosecution contended that Pele’s actions had caused financial loss to the state and it was based on those facts that the accused persons had been put before the Court.

Source: GNA

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