I won’t be silenced for performing my duty – Dr Ato Forson
Dr Cassiel Ato Forson, the Ranking Member on the Finance Committee of Parliament, has described as frivolous a charge by the Attorney General accusing him of causing financial loss to the state.
He said the suit was nothing but a politically motivated attempt by government, through the Attorney General, to silence him for performing his duties as the Ranking Member on the Finance Committee.
“I want to assure the good people of Ghana, especially my constituents who elected me to represent them in Parliament, that I will not and cannot be silenced by the blatant abuse of prosecutorial powers by the Attorney General,” he said.
Dr Forson said this at a press conference in Parliament House to react to the news making rounds that certain charges have been preferred against him by the Attorney General, Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame.
On December 23, 2021 the Attorney-General’s office filed criminal charges including causing financial loss to the state against Dr Cassiel Ato Forson, a former Deputy Minister of Finance, during President John Mahama’s administration.
The facts of the case are that Dr Ato Forson, when he was a Deputy Finance Minister, executed a contract by the Government to purchase some 200 ambulances for the National Ambulance Service.
He is alleged to have misapplied €2.37 million by causing Letters of Credit to be established against the Budget of the Ministry of Health in favour of a Dubai-based firm.
Dr Forson also stated that though he was yet to be formally charged in court, he had seen copies of the charge sheet in the media.
He explained that the investigation into the purchase of ambulances, which was the basis for the criminal charges, started somewhere in 2017.
He said in November 2017, a request was made to the then Speaker of Parliament, Professor Mike Oquaye, for him to assist the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) with their investigation into the matter, where he provided a statement detailing his recollection of the transaction.
Dr Forson said interestingly, nothing was heard of the investigation until November 2021, four years interval, when he started raising concerns about the 2022 Budget and Economic Policy of the Government.
He said during that period, the secretariat of the Speaker informed him that EOCO had requested that he should be released to assist with further investigation into the purchase of the ambulances.
He was further informed that the office of the Attorney General had requested that a charge statement be taken from him in preparation for formal charges to be filed against him, adding that the coincidence spoke volumes about the motivation for those charges.
A cursory reading of the charges showed that his only role in the entire transaction was to have signed a letter on behalf of the Minister of Finance, in his capacity as Deputy Minister, for the establishment of Letters of Credit by the Bank of Ghana and for the payment by the Controller and Accountant General of the charges for the letters of credit, he said.
“If I may ask…since when did ministerial instruction for the establishment of letters of credit become a crime in this dear country of ours,” he queried.
Dr Forson said he did not authorize the payment of the €2.37 million as alleged and that his job in the entire transaction was only to request the issuance of the Letters of Credit on the authority of the Minister of Finance.