Saglemi housing case: Collins Dauda, others plead not guilty

Collins Dauda served as water resources, works and housing minister in the John Mahama government

All five accused persons in the case of the Republic versus Collins Dauda and four others (Saglemi Affordable Housing Project Case) have pleaded not guilty to all charges preferred against them by the state.

The accused persons Collins Dauda, Kwaku Agyeman-Mensah, Alhaji Ziblim Yakubu, Andrew Clocanas and Nouvi Tetteh Angelo have together been charged with 52 counts for various roles they played in what the Attorney General says has resulted in financial loss to the state to the tune of about USD$200,000,000.00.

Appearing before Justice Comfort Tasiame’s court (Criminal High 4), the accused persons denied any wrong doing to all the charges.

Bail application

Lawyers for the accused persons moved swiftly to apply for bail for their clients. Attorney General, Godfred Yeboah Dame, did not oppose the bail application but asked the court to set stringent bail conditions that will ensure that the accused persons will present themselves to stand trial.

Conditions set for bail

The court in granting the accused persons bail set same in the sum of US$12.5 million for the first accused person. His bail is a self recognizance one, however, he is to deposit his passport at the registry of the High Court.

The second accused and third accused were admitted to bail in the sum of US$65 million or its Cedi equivalent each with three sureties, one of the sureties must be a civil or public servant. The accused must deposit their passport with the court registrar.

The fourth accused persons were also admitted to bail in the sum of US$179 million or its Cedi equivalent with three sureties with one being a public officer He is also ordered to deposit his passport at the registry.

The fifth accused persons was also admitted to bail in the sum of 13 million dollars or its Cedi equivalent with three sureties with one being a public officer He is also ordered to deposit his passport at the registry.

The court subsequently adjourned sitting to Wednesday 13 October 2021.

Legal representations

The Attorney General, Godfred Yeboah Dame led the legal team of the state and he was supported by the Director of Public Prosecution Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa. Thaddeus Sory who appeared with Baffour Ashia and led by Joe Reindorf represented the 1st accused person. Edudzi Tamakloe appeared for 2nd and 3rd, with Reindorf Twumasi Ankrah representing the 4th. The 5th and final accused person was ably represented by Maxwell Agbambilla.

Charges applicable

Over all, there are four (4) charges that have been preferred against the accused persons and they are Intentionally Misapplying Public Property, contrary to section 1 (2) of the Public Property Protection Act, 1977, (SMCD) 140, Willfully Causing Financial Loss to the Republic, contrary to section 179A(3)(a) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29), Issuing False Certificate, contrary to section 1 and 2 of the Government Contracts (Protection) Act, 1979, AFRCD 58 and Dishonestly Causing Loss to Public Property, contrary to section 2(1) of the Public Property Protection Act 1977, (SMCD) 140, making up the total of 52 counts as captured on the charge sheet.

First accused

The 1st accused person Collins Dauda, has a total of thirteen (13) counts and three of the four charges, namely; Intentionally Misapplying Public Property, contrary to section 1 (2) of the Public Property Protection Act, 1977, (SMCD) 140, Willfully Causing Financial Loss to the Republic, contrary to section 179A(3)(a) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29), Issuing False Certificate, contrary to section 1 and 2 of the Government Contracts (Protection) Act, 1979, AFRCD 58, applying to him.

Second accused

The 2nd accused person Kwaku Agyeman-Mensah, has twenty-two (22) counts and two of the four charges, Willfully Causing Financial Loss to the Republic, contrary to section 179A(3)(a) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29), Issuing False Certificate, contrary to section 1 and 2 of the Government Contracts (Protection) Act, 1979, AFRCD 58, applying to him.

Third accused

Alhaji Ziblim Yakubu, the 3rd accused person has the most counts, twenty-nine (29) and two out of the four charges, Willfully Causing Financial Loss to the Republic, contrary to section 179A(3)(a) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29), Issuing False Certificate, contrary to section 1 and 2 of the Government Contracts (Protection) Act, 1979, AFRCD 58, applying to him.

Fourth accused

The 4th accused person, Andrew Clocanas, has the least of the counts, two (2) and two of the charges applying to him, namely; Issuing False Certificate, contrary to section 1 and 2 of the Government Contracts (Protection) Act, 1979, AFRCD 58 and Dishonestly Causing Loss to Public Property, contrary to section 2(1) of the Public Property Protection Act 1977, (SMCD) 140

Fifth accused

The last accused person, Nouvi Tetteh Angelo, has four (4) counts and two charges, Issuing False Certificate, contrary to section 1 and 2 of the Government Contracts (Protection) Act, 1979, AFRCD 58 and Dishonestly Causing Loss to Public Property, contrary to section 2(1) of the Public Property Protection Act 1977, (SMCD) 140 applying to him.

Facts presented

The 1st accused Alhaji Collins Dauda, is a Member of Parliament and a former Minister of the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing (MWRW) from February 2013 to March 2015. The 2nd accused Kwaku Agyeman Mensah was also a Minister of the MWRWH from April 2015 to January 2017.

The 3rd accused, Alhaji Ziblim Yakubu was the Chief Director of MWRWH from July 2009 to April 2017. The 4th accused Andrew Clocanas was the Executive Chairman of Construtora OAS Ghana Limited whilst the 5th accused Nouvi Tetteh Angelo is a director and the majority shareholder of Ridge Management Solutions DWC-LLC. He is also a director of VHM Ghana Ltd.

“In August 2012, the then President, John Dramani Mahama, granted executive approval to the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing (MWRWH) for the construction of 5000 affordable housing units (the Saglemi Affordable Housing Project) for sale to workers through mortgage arrangements provided by Ghana Home Loans to be implemented by Construtora OAS Limited.

The project was to be funded by a Buyer’s Credit of US$200million provided by Messrs Credit Suisse International (Credit Suisse). On 31st October 2012, Parliament granted approval for the government to secure a facility of $200million from Credit Suisse for the construction of 5000 affordable housing units by Messrs Construtora OAS Ghana Limited, following a joint memorandum to Parliament by the then Minister for MWRWH, Hon. Enoch Teye Mensah and the then Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, Dr Kwabena Duffour.

On 4th January 2013, a Facility Agreement was signed between the Ministry of Finance, as the borrower, and Credit Suisse, as the creditor, for a facility of $200million for the construction of 5000 housing units.

On the same day, MWRWH through the then Minister, Hon. E.T Mensah signed an Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) Agreement with Construtora OAS Ghana Ltd represented by the 4th accused for the construction of affordable housing units at Saglemi in the Greater-Accra Region.

The project which was to be executed in four phases on 2, 172 acres of land was at a contract price of US$ 200million, including consultancy services. An Escrow Management Agreement a condition precedent to the release of the facility to the borrower was also signed pursuant to the Facility Agreement and the EPC Agreement, between the Ministry of Finance (Borrower), the MWRWH (Account holder), the Bank of Ghana(Account holding bank) and Construtora OAS (Contractor)].

The purpose of this agreement was to ensure that the $200million facility would be properly applied towards the development of the 5000 housing units. The agreement, therefore, required payments under the contract to be effected only when specific works had been duly executed, verified and certified by the consultants of the project, the Architectural and Engineering Services Ltd. (AESL).

The EPC Agreement provided for an advance payment of 40% of the contract price to the contractor within five working days of the receipt of the facility in the Escrow Account. The advance payment was to be applied towards specific works set out in the contract. The remaining amount of the contract price was to be paid to the contractor based on the fulfillment of specific project milestones.

The contractor was required under the Agreement to set out the details of the achieved project milestones, which had to be verified and certified by the consultants before receiving payment.

On 9th January 2013, Credit Suisse disbursed an amount of $198,450,000, representing the $200million Jess fees and transaction expenses into the Escrow Account. On 27th February 2013, an amount of $80million representing 40% of the contract sum was transferred to Construtora OAS as advance payment.

The contractor however failed to apply the amount towards the purpose for which the payment was made. On 27th February 2014, the 1st accused who had assumed office as the new Minister for MWRWH, without any parliamentary approval, reviewed the original EPC and signed the First and Restated Agreement with Construtora represented by its Executive Chairman, the 4th accused.

In the process, he changed the scope of Works and the application of the $200 million approved by Parliament for the construction of 5000 housing units. This new agreement required the contractor to execute the project in three phases over a site of 1,272 acres whilst the $200 million was now to be applied towards the execution of only the first phase of the project comprising just about 1502 housing units.

This was contrary to the executive and parliamentary approvals as well as the Facility and Escrow Management Agreements. On 15th April 2013, the AESL signed a contract with Vito Hugo-Coordenacao e Gestao De Projectos (VHM) subcontracting their consultancy services under the EPC Agreement to the company for $500,000,000 over a period of 24months.

This was the amount provided under the EPC Agreement for consultancy services for the construction of the 5000 housing units. Under the Agreement between AESL and VHM, a maximum amount of $2,000,000 was to be paid to AESL, whilst not more than $2,987, 750 was to be paid to VHMfor their services.

This contract also provided for 40% advance payment. In April 2015, whilst the AESLand the VHMwere still providing consultancy services under the contract, the MWRWH, entered into another contract for consultancy services with Ridge Management Solutions DWC-LLC (RMS), represented by its director and majority shareholder, the 5th accused, Nouvi Tettey Angelo, for a period of three months at a contract sum of $5.6million.

This was at a time RMS was not registered in Ghana as a company. Once again, the MWRWH was required to make an advance payment of 40% of the contract sum. This contract was completely outside the EPC Agreement. Investigations revealed that the 5th accused, who is the majority shareholder of RMS is also a Director of VHM Ghana Ltd.

ln August 2016, the 2nd accused entered into yet another consultancy agreement with RMS, this time for what was referred to as ‘marketing implementation services’ for a sum of $2,502,198.00. Once again, the Ministry was required to make an advance payment of 40% of the contract sum.

All this while the AESL and VHM were purportedly performing the same consultancy services for the project, their consultancy agreements having been extended at various times by the 2nd and 3rd accused persons.

On 21st December 2016, the 3rd accused, Alhaji Ziblim Yakubu without recourse to Parliament reviewed the First and Restated Agreement and signed the Second and Restated Agreement.

This led to a further reduction in the scope of works to 1,412 housing units at a revised contract price of US$ l81,018,000.00 and extended the completion period of the contract to 31st July 2017 without any basis.

Between March 2014 and January 2015, an amount of $46,131,153.41 was paid to the contractor, Construtora OAS, whilst a total of $3,386,916.08 was paid to AESL and VHM when no works had been duly executed by the contractor.

These payments were authorized and approved by the 1st and 3rd accused without any evidence of specific project milestones achieved by the contractor as required under the EPC Agreement.

Further, there was no justification of the appropriate use of the advance payment of $80 million earlier made. Between June 2015 and January 2017, a further amount of $54,066, 768.16 was paid to the contractor of the project when no works had been duly executed. Once again, there were no milestone reports supporting the payments.

Nonetheless, the 2nd and 3rd accused persons ordered for the payments to be made. Further payments were also made to the three consultants; AESL, VHM and RMS, far in excess of the $5,000,000 stated as consultancy fees in the original EPC agreement without any evidence of work they had done. There were no verification and certification of actual work done by the contractor as required under the EPC Agreement.

Even though a total amount of $196,428,891.66 has been spent on the Saglemi Affordable Housing Project, with the contractor having been paid $179,904, 757.78, investigations revealed that the cost of works executed on the site, including consultancy services, is about $64,982,900.77.

Only 651. 75 acres of land out of the 2, 172 acres of land made available by the MWRWH to the contractor for the project has been developed. Investigations further revealed that only 668 housing units were completed by the contractor. These houses are, however, not habitable and none under the project has been sold and the Facility remains unpaid, resulting in huge financial loss to the Republic of Ghana.”

Wilberforce Asare

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