Incumbent Member of Parliament (MP) for Chiana-Paga, Abuga Pele, was yesterday hauled to the Financial Court in Accra for his role in the infamous GYEEDA scandal.
He was charged with wilfully causing financial loss to the state to the tune of GH¢3,330,568.53 when he was National Coordinator of the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP), now the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA).
Abuga Pele was accused of aiding one Philip Akpeena Assibit, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Goodwill International Group (GIG), to defraud the state of the said amount, equivalent to $1,948,626.68.
When the two appeared in the court presided over by Justice Afia Asare-Botwe, they were slapped with a total of 19 charges for their respective roles in the GYEEDA scandal.
While Abuga Pele was charged with abetment of crime, wilfully causing financial loss to the state and intentionally misappropriating public property, Assibit was charged with six counts of defrauding by false pretences and five charges of dishonestly appropriating public property.
It was the case of prosecution that Mr. Abuga Pele, without authorization from the Attorney-General and then sector Minister Akua Sena Dansua, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the GIG on behalf of GYEEDA.
GIG reportedly claimed to have provided consultancy services on exit strategies for GYEEDA (then NYEP), financial engineering leading to the World Bank approving a $65 million loan to GYEEDA and “recruited and trained 250 youth to support the implementation of what was referred to as the World Bank funded Youth Enterprise Development Programme (NYED).”
Prosecuting, Principal State Attorney, Evelyn Keelson told the court that even though Mr. Assibit’s claims were false, Abuga Pele did not only justify but recommended and approved them, for which reason GIG was paid GH¢3,330,568.53.
In applying for bail, counsel for Assibit, Raymond Bagnabu, said his client was a businessman of international repute with a fixed place of abode, for which reason he should not be denied bail since the offences were bailable, describing the allegation as “strange and wrongful”.
Apart from that, he insisted the prosecution was not even certain about the charges to prefer against his client, looking at the number of charges on the charge sheet.
He therefore indicated their preparedness to lead evidence to prove his client’s innocence in the course of the trial.
Counsel for Abuga Pele, Thaddeus Sory, also observed that the facts were not only fragile but also hollow, claiming that his client had impeccable credentials, the reason he had served in various public capacities in Parliament without committing any illegality.
Counsel prayed the court to grant the former GYEEDA boss, who is a sitting MP, the opportunity to continue performing his legislative functions by giving him a self recognisance bail.
The court granted his plea with an order for Abuga Pele to report to the police every Monday while his colleague, Assibit, was granted bail in the sum of GH¢2million with four sureties, one to be justified.
The Prosecution team was led by the Acting Director of Public Prosecution, Ms Cynthia Lamptey.
Facts of the case
Mrs. Keelson narrated that in 2009, Abuga Pele was appointed the National Co-ordinator of NYEP, a social intervention programme to provide job opportunities to unemployed youth.
He was subsequently said to have been introduced to Philip Akpeena Assibit somewhere in 2010, as someone who could help the NYEP meet some of its objectives.
Soon after the meeting, Abuga Pele was said to have, on behalf of the NYEP, entered into a MoU with GIG represented by Philip Assibit.
Mrs. Keelson stated that contrary to the normal practice, the MOU was signed on behalf of the NYEP by Abuga Pele without any recourse to the then sector Minister, Akua Sena Dansua or the Attorney-General.
Under the MOU, the NYEP was described as the “Host” and GIG as a “Strategic Partner”.
The parties, she said, agreed to “combine their labour, properties and skills for the purpose of engaging in resource mobilization, investor sourcing, management consulting, capacity building, career development and training services among others.”
GIG was responsible for resource mobilization and undertook to provide preliminary funds for the development of the programme.
The parties, according to the prosecutor, agreed to share profits equally.
The prosecutor however noted that there was nothing on record in terms of business proposals or documents forming the basis of engaging GIG as a Strategic Partner.
Between May 2011 and May 2012, Assibit was said to have made a number of payment claims for consultancy services allegedly rendered to the NYEP.
These representations were noted to have been supported by Mr. 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.
Abuga Pele was alleged to have claimed that Assibit’s work had directly resulted in a $65million World Bank facility for the NYEP.
The prosecutor however disclosed that all these representations were false and that GIG was never appointed a consultant to NYEP, while Assibit did not provide any exit plan and strategy for NYEP modules.
Apart from that, he was also said not to have conducted any financial engineering for the approval of a World Bank facility of $65million since there had not been any approval by the World Bank for the facility.
In August 2012, Assibit was said to have been paid an additional GH¢835,000 under the guise of what was referred to as tracer studies for the World Bank which he did not deserve.
By Mary Anane