13:22, 06.Mar 2018
The Financial and Economic Court Division of the Accra High Court presided over by Justice Afia Asare-Botwe has sentenced Mr Abuga Pele, a former National Coordinator of the defunct Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA) to 10 years imprisonment after he was found guilty of causing financial loss to the state.
Mr Philip Akpeena Assibit, a representative of the Goodwill International Group (GIG) who was also implicated in the (GYEEDA) scandal was also handed a 15-year jail term.
Mr Pele will serve six years for abetment of crime and four years for causing financial loss to the state.
Mr Assibit on the other hand with serve three years for dishonestly causing financial loss to the state and 12 years for defrauding by false pretence.
The court indicated that the purported memorandum of understanding signed between the GYEEDA and GIG is incapable of being contract of consultancy services as espoused by the accused persons.
According to the court no consultancy services existed per the evidences brought before it. The court again added that, the documents presented as evidence of work done by Mr Assibit has lapses and difficult to believe.
On whether his actions amounted to defrauding, the court averred that prosecutions have proven so and accordingly convicted Mr Pele of causing financial loss to the state and abetment to commit crime.
The court ruled that per all documents before it from the World Bank, no such sums of $65 million funding from the World Bank has been procured by Mr Assibit as he claimed as at September 2011 when Mr Assibit wrote insisting he had secured that amount.
Assibit was again convicted on the charge of dishonestly and causing financial loss to the state to the tune of GHC3.2 million or $1.9 million dollars.
The court found Mr Pele guilty of 13 counts ranging from abetting to commit crime to willfully causing financial loss. The court also found businessman Mr Assibit guilty of 6 counts of defrauding by false pretence.
Assibit was accused by state attorneys of 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.
Pele, the then National Coordinator of GYEEDA, now known as the Youth Employment Agency (YEA), is alleged to have acted in a manner resulting in the loss of the amount to the state.
He has pleaded not guilty to two counts of abetment of crime and intentionally misapplying public property and five counts of wilfully 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.
The facts of the case are that in 2009, Pele, on assumption of office as the National Co-ordinator of the then National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP), the predecessor of GYEEDA, entered into a contract with Assibit, a representative of the Goodwill International Group (GIG).
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.
Between May 2011 and May 2012, Assibit, according to the prosecution, “made a number of payment claims for consultancy services he claimed to have rendered to the NYEP, ranging from the provision of an exit plan and strategy for all NYEP modules”.
He also established a youth enterprise development project which he claimed to have used in securing approval for a World Bank facility of $65 million for the NYEP.
He also claimed to have recruited and trained 250 youth to support the implementation of what he referred to as the World Bank-funded Youth Enterprise Development Programme (YEDP).
The prosecution 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 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,” it pointed out, adding that investigations revealed that the GIG was never appointed a consultant to the NYEP.
It 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,” it said.
Additionally, it said, investigations also discovered that in August 2012, Assibit was paid an additional GH¢835,000 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.
According to the prosecution, Assibit’s claims on the tracer studies were also supported by Pele, based upon which Pele approved the payment of the amount to Assibit.
Pele’s actions, according to the prosecution, had caused financial loss to the state and it was based on those facts that the accused persons had been put before the court.
In the course of the trial, the prosecution called five witnesses, including Mr Clement Humado, a former Minister of Youth and Sports in the Mahama administration.
In their defence, Pele and Assibit denied engaging in any illegalities or acts that caused financial loss to the state.
Assibit claimed he did, indeed, perform tracer studies and other consultancy works for the NYEP and that every payment he received was duly approved and paid after work done.
Mr Pele also denied any financial malfeasance and explained that he was completely innocent.
Source: Ghana/ClassFMonline.com/91.3FM with files from Graphic