The Minister of Health, Kweku Agyeman Manu, has admitted before an Accra Financial and Economic Court that he has not seen any document which shows that a former Deputy Minister of Finance, Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson, authorized payment to Big Sea Trading Ltd for the purchase of 200 ambulances.
The admission came to light when Counsel for Dr Forson, Dr Abdul Basit Bamba, subjected the Health Minister to cross-examination on Thursday following Mr Agyeman Manu’s evidence in Chief.
Former Deputy Finance Minister, Dr Cassiel Ato Forson and former Chief Director of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Sylvester Anemana as well as businessman, Richard Jakpa, have been charged with causing financial loss to the state, over the importation of 30 ambulances that formed part of a consignment of 200, under a contract signed between the Ministry of Health and Dubai-based firm, Big Sea Limited in 2012.
Dr Bamba asked Mr. Agyeman Manu pointedly whether he had “sighted any letter or correspondence showing that A1(Dr Forson), authorized payment after the LC was established”?
“No, my Lord, I have not sighted any such letter” Mr. Agyeman Manu said.
Dr Bamba had earlier asked the witness to read from a Bank of Ghana letter which showed that authorization for payment under the LC did not come from the first accused.
In addition, Mr. Agyeman Manu was compelled under cross examination to read some lines from a statement given to investigators by Edward Markwei, who is head of the Trade Finance Department of the Bank of Ghana and doubled as the second prosecution witness in the case.
Mr. Agyeman Manu’s reading of this statement did not indicate that payment for the ambulances was authorized by Dr Forson.
Both Messrs. Agyeman Manu and Markwei had admitted at previous sittings of the court that letters of credit did not constitute payment but were guarantees for payment if specified conditions were met.
Mr. Markwei on his part also disclosed that the LC in question was paid on approval basis and hence the Ministry of Health was required to approve documents presented by the beneficiary and authorize payment.
He stated that without such approval and authorization, the Bank of Ghana would not have paid Big Sea.
The Health Minister is testifying as the third prosecution witness in a case of Causing Financial loss to the state brought against Dr Ato Forson and two others for the procurement of some ambulances.