The High Court in Accra has released to the Minority Leader and former Deputy Minister of Finance, Dr Cassiel Ato Forson, his passport to enable him to travel outside the jurisdiction. 

The Minority leader’s passport had been in the possession of the court as part of his bail conditions in the trial in which he has been charged with two others for allegedly causing €2.37 million financial loss to the state in an ambulance deal.

In court last Monday, the presiding judge, Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe, a  Court of Appeal judge sitting with additional responsibilities as a High Court judge, released the passport when she varied the bail conditions for Mr Ato Forson.

The court, however, ordered the Minority leader to return the passport by Monday, October 2, 2023 at 12 noon.

That followed an application for variation made by Godwin Tameklo, who held the brief for Dr Aziz Bamba, the Minority leader’s substantive lawyer.

As part of proceedings, Mr Tameklo also withdrew an application asking the judge to recuse herself from considering an application before her. 

Not guilty

The other accused persons in the case are Richard Jakpa, a private businessman, and Sylvester Anemana, a former Chief Director of the Ministry of Health.

The three have pleaded not guilty to counts of wilfully causing financial loss to the state, abetment to wilfully cause financial loss to the state, contravention of the Public Procurement Act and intentionally misapplying public property.

Prosecution’s facts

Per the A-G’s facts accompanying the charge sheet, in 2009, while delivering the State of the Nation Address, the then President, Prof. John Evans Atta Mills, indicated that new ambulances would be purchased to expand the operations of the National Ambulance Service.

Jakpa, who is a local representative of Big Sea General Trading Limited, a company based in Dubai, subsequently approached the Ministry of Health with a proposal that he had arranged for finance from Stanbic Bank for the supply of 200 ambulances to the government.

Parliament approved the financing agreement between the government and Stanbic Bank.

According to the facts, on November 19, 2012, Dr Anemana wrote to the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) seeking approval to engage Big Sea through single sourcing for the supply of the 200 ambulances.

They added that on August 7, 2014, Dr Forson wrote to the Bank of Ghana for letters of credit covering €3.95 million for the supply of 50 ambulances in favour of Big Sea.

The letters of credit were accordingly released to Big Sea.

The facts said 30 ambulances were purchased at a sum of €2.37 million, but all were found not to have met the ambulance specifications and “not fit for purpose”.