Peter Osei Amoako, Director of Finance, COCOBOD, says the Board paid a total of $19.25 million to Agricult Ghana Limited for procurement of fertilizer in the 2013/2014 crop season.
He said the first payment, was made on August 13, 2014, by a letter of instruction to the Ghana International Bank for the transfer of $11 million from COCOBOD account to the beneficiary: Royal Bank/Agricult Ghana Limited.
Mr Amoako, who is the sixth prosecution witness in the trial involving the former CEO of COCOBOD, Dr Stephen Opuni and two others, in his further evidence in chief, said the transfer of the $11 million was for 400,000 litres of lithovit liquid fertilizer out of 700, 000 litres procured by the Board.
The witness, who was led by Mrs Yvonne Attakora-Obuobisa, Director of Public Prosecution, said the second payment was made on October 15, 2014, instructing the Ghana International Bank to transfer $8.25 million to Agricult Ghana Limited to their Stanbic Ghana Limited account.
He said the transfer was the final payment for the supply of 300,000 litres of lithovit liquid fertilizer for the contract to supply 700,000 litres ordered by COCOBOD.
At this stage, the prosecution tended copies of evidence of payment made for the procurement of fertilizer for the 2013/2014 crop season made in two trenches.
Attached is the suppliers invoice, inspection of lithovit, a copy of the contract, a notification of award, account details from Agongo, a copy of COCOBOD bank statement from GIB confirming the transfer and a swift advice confirming credit to Agricult.
Mrs Attakora-Obuobisa asked the witness to explain to the Court how the procurement was done in 2013/2014 crop season. The witness said 2014/15 procurement started after approval of the budget and then the procurement plan.
He said a request for quotation was submitted by Agricult Ghana Limited but per the records “I did not see any request to the company from COCOBOD but I have the quotation being submitted by Agricult for the supply of lithovit liquid fertilizer.”
He said after that COCOBOD then wrote to Public Procurement Authority (PPA) for approval to secure lithovit liquid fertilizer.
He said PPA then approved the request from COCOBOD and the Board issued a notification of award to the supplier. “The supplier responded with a performance guarantee, after which, the contract was signed between COCOBOD and Agricult for the supply of 700,000 litres of lithovit liquid fertilizer at a cost of $19.95million.
“You have said that you cited a quotation from Agricult for the supply of lithovit liquid fertilizer for 2014/15. Take a look at this,” the DPP asked and the witness said, “I have here a letter dated 19th November 2014, addressed to Dr Opuni, for the supply of lithovit liquid fertilizer at a unit price per litre of $28.5 signed by Seidu Agongo.” The Document was tendered with no objection.
The Prosecution asked the witness if he told the court that COCOBOD through Dr Opuni applied to PPA for approval to single source fertilizer from Agricult and the witness answered in the affirmative.
He said a letter dated December 10, 2014 addressed to the CEO of PPA, heading “Application for approval to procure fertilizers for cocoa Hitec programme for 2014/15.
He said the product was lithovit, the quantity was 700,000 litres, the unit per price was $28.5, estimated cost $19.5million and signed by Dr Opuni. The document was tendered with no objection.
He said after that PPA approved the request made by Dr Opuni to sole source lithovit fertilizer for 2014/15 in a letter dated December 31, 2014 with a heading: “RE: Application for approval to procure fertilizers for cocoa Hitec programme for 2014/15” granting approval for COCOBOD to procure 700,000 litres of lithovit for 2014/2015 addressed to Dr Opuni. This document was also tendered in evidence with no objection.
He said after the approval, a Contract was signed between COCOBOD and Agricult for the supply of lithovit fertilizer.
He said the agreement was made on February 6, 2015 and was signed on behalf of COCOBOD by Dr Opuni and on behalf of the supplier by Mr Seidu Agongo.
The witness said a certification of award signed by the CEO and a certificate from the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) expired in December 2014 but there was no Certificate before the signing of the contract.
At this point Mr Samuel Codjoe, the Counsel for Dr Opuni raised an abjection over CRIG certificate attached to the contract, saying there should be a mistake somewhere since the CRIG certificate could not be the one attached to the contract since it expired in December of the previous year.
He said they would have had no objection if the proper certificate was attached.
The DPP described the objection as strange since the certificate was attached to the contract, saying it was for them to explain why as CEO, Dr Opuni, failed to notice that he was signing a contract with an expired certificate.
She said that was part of their case and it was absolutely untrue that “we have in this court tendered a valid CRIG certificate for 2015, because it does not exist.”
The Prosecution said the document was coming from proper custody, absolutely essential and relevant for the conduct of the case as charges included the conduct of Dr Opuni for the supply of lithovit for 2014/15.
“It is our case that he signed this contract even though Agricult did not have the valid certificate at the time that it was being signed.”
The Court, upon hearing the parties, said the document ought to be admitted into evidence because it was relevant.
The Court said if counsel had any qualms with the document, he would have the opportunity to cross examine the witness on the document.
The witness said a basic requirement for awarding a contract to a supplier was a valid certificate issued by CRIG for the fertilizer.
The prosecution handed over a document for the witness to identify and asked,” what is it? The witness said the document was a certificate issued on January 22, 2014 and expired on 31st December 2014.
Mrs Attakora-Obuobisa enquired from the witness, which certificate covered the contract awarded to Agricult in February 2015 but the witness said, “I do not have evidence of certificate covering the contract.”
The witness was asked to explain to the Court how lithovit was procured in 2015/2016. Mr Amoako said in 2015/20116, after budget approval, a quotation was submitted by Agricult for the supply of one million litres of lithovit liquid fertilizer.
He said COCOBOD wrote to the PPA to seek approval to procure one million litres of lithovit fertilizer at a cost of $26.5million.
He said PPA granted the approval for COCOBOD to go ahead with the procurement, there a notification of award was issued to the supplier, who submitted a performance guarantee and on December 31, 2015, COCOBOD signed a contract with the supplier.
The prosecution asked the witness that Agricult submitted a quotation for the supply of lithovit in 2015 and he answered in the affirmative.
He said a letter dated October 12, 2015, was addressed to Dr Opuni with the heading: “Quotation” with item like lithovit at a unit price of $26.5 and signed by Mr Agongo. The document was tendered in evidence.
Dr Opuni and Mr Seidu Agongo are facing 27 charges, including defrauding by false pretences, wilfully causing financial loss to the state, money laundering, corruption by a public officer and contravention of the Public Procurement Act.
They have both pleaded not guilty to the charges and are on a GH¢300,000.00 self-recognisance bail each.
The trial was adjourned to November 12, 2020, for further evidence.