The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) the United Kingdom (UK) has stated that there was no evidence against Dr. George Sipa Yankey in the prosecution case of the Republic Vrs Mabey & Johnson (M&J) at the Southwark Crown Court in the UK.
This was contained in a letter dated 2nd November 2009 addressed to Dr. Yankey’s lawyers, Bates and wells and Braithwaite, London by Richard Alderman, SFO director. He said, “I can confirm that the hearing proceeded on the basis of facts agreed between Prosecution and the Defence. There was no oral evidence leading to a determination of the facts by the judge.” This follows a strong-worded letter sent to the Director of SFO on behalf of Dr. Yankey, by his lawyer, asking the SFO to explain how they came about with evidence to implicate their clients.
According to Bates Wells and Braithwaite, their client was not approached or consulted in respect of the M&J allegations. Also, they did not give him the opportunity to provide evidence to prosecuting authorities, the Court or M&J in respect of the allegations. They stressed that, their client was not provided with evidence in the hands of and relied on by the SFO in making statements contained in the prosecutions’ opening note and during the sentence hearing.
The allegation made to the court was done without any prior reference to their client and in circumstances which gave him no opportunity of responding to them, contrary to rules of natural justice. “It is difficult for our client to comment further at this time on the detail of the allegations in the absence of any documentation and so our client is unable to say presently whether payments in the sums specified were paid on our about the dates indicated,” the letter stated.
They went on further that “these payments, if paid at all on the said dates, should be in respect of legal advise and assistance which he provided to M&J in Ghana and its former agent. Our client was initially successful in brokering a settlement, although the matter was later litigated in the Ghanaian High Court. They explained, “our client was at the times specified (October 1996 and August 1998) the director of Legal and Private Sector Department and not the Director of Legal and International Affairs at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning of the Ghanaian Government (there was no such department at the time or thereafter).”
They also drew the attention of the UK SFO to the fact that, for the record, the conviction against our client obtained in Ghana in 2003, to which reference is made in paragraph 123 of the Prosecution’s Opening Statement, and which the prosecution accepted was not “directly related to payments from M&J” was not a conviction for dishonesty, for theft or for corruption, as was made clear by Afreh, J Sc in the course of proceedings, but rather one for “willfully causing financial loss” to the State of Ghana, contrary to section 179(3)(a) of the Criminal Code (act 29) 1960, a relatively new offence created in 1993 by the Criminal Code Amendment Act, 1933 (act 458).
You should be aware that the prosecution of this case was politically motivated and that the former President of Ghana, at whose behest that prosecution was mounted, on the eve of leaving office in January of this year, announced a pardon for our client Our client also has an appeal pending in respect of his conviction. It is pertinent to quote the following words of the trial judge: “This case is unusual [and] novel.
It is not a case of stealing, as happened in the case of Mallam Issa, where somebody steals and you say apart from stealing you have caused financial loss to the State. It is not a case of corruption because they have not been charged with corruption where you say that somebody took some money for doing something for somebody. “Apart from two counts, it is not a case where it is being alleged that the accused persons transferred money from Government treasury to somebody who was not entitled to it. It is not the allegation I think the allegation is that they played certain roles in getting the Government to guarantee certain loans taken by Quality Grain Company. These moneys, I must explain, the $12 million and $7 million never came into the treasury of Ghana.
Of course, the prosecution has the right in saying that because of the role they played, just the allegation as I understand it, they should come and answer for certain losses which the State has incurred as a result of the failure of Quality Grain Company to pay the loans. So it is a bit more complicated than the usual cases that we encounter in the courts.”
In addition, in his judgment delivered on 28th April 2003, Justice Afreh, at page 4 thereof stated: “This case has aroused considerable interest. There is widespread belief that the accused persons are being tried for stealing millions of US dollars or for corruption. This is not correct. They are being tried for willfully causing financial loss to the State under Section 179a (3) of the Criminal Code, 1960 (Act 29) a relatively new offence created by the Criminal Code (Amendment) Act, 1993 (Act 458)”.
We have taken the trouble to quote the above to make you aware of the inappropriateness of your above reference to this case. Indeed, the making of such a highly prejudicial statement about our client, who was not on trial and who had not been contacted by you, gives grave cause for concern. We request you to take the necessary steps to correct the erroneous statements you made about that previous case.
Our client has received the advice of a UK barrister specializing in extradition law and international criminal law that the conduct in respect of which Dr. Yankey was convicted, if committed in the UK, would not have amounted to a criminal offence. In this regard, our firm has represented Dr. Yankey in respect of immigration matters and the UK Immigration Authorities have accepted that this conviction has no bearing on our client’s immigration status.
Source: The Daily Democrat
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