A Financial Division of Accra High Court on Friday sentenced Mr. Abuga Pele, the former National Coordinator of the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA) and Mr. Philip Assibit, the Chief Executive Officer of Goodwill International Group (GIG) to a total of 18-years imprisonment.
Convicted on all the 19 counts levelled against them, Mr Pele would serve six years for abetment of crime and four years for wilfully causing financial loss to the State. The sentences will run concurrently
While Mr Assibit would serve 12 years for defrauding by false pretences and three years for intentionally misapplying public property and dishonestly causing loss of public property. These sentences will also run concurrently.
Mr Pele and Mr Assibit, a representative of GIG were tried on various charges of causing financial loss to the State to the tune of GH¢4.1 million.
Assibit was convicted for putting in false claims that he had secured a 65-million-dollar World Bank funding for the creation of one million jobs for the youth, under GYEEDA, which led the government to part with a total of GH¢4.1 million to his company but failed to deliver per the agreement.
The court presided over by Justices Mrs Afia Serwaa Asare-Botwe delivering the 52-page judgment said the prosecution was able to prove beyond reasonable doubt the guilt of the convicts.
She said documents coupled with oral submissions and evidence available to the court and with a careful observation, Assibit had no contract with the State and also he did not perform any consultancy services, he claimed he did for the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP).
“He falsely represented himself as a consultant that rendered consultancy services to NYEP,” she said.
He said Assibit also represented himself as a Managing Consultant of the Management, Development and Productivity Institute for which he signed letters on the letterhead of the institute, all which was false.
On the claim that he (Assibit), secured a 65-million dollars World Bank facility for the NYEP was again false because witnesses that came to court and with sufficient evidence, the proposal government made to the World Bank for financial support was 60-million dollars, two clear years before Assibit’s claims were made.
She said the Bank’s correspondent to the court indicated that they have not provided any financial support to the NYEP and that they were only at the preparatory stages of the support.
“I can say without fear or favour that there is no such funding from the Bank and Assibit made a false representation,” she added.
The Judge said in the claim of Assibit recruiting and training 250 youth and developing an exit plan for all the NYEP modules, the convict made a false representation and his claim that the World Bank asked him to conduct a tracier study was also false.
Mrs Asare-Botwe said on the part of Pele, he abetted the crime through his directives for payment to Assibit, describing the actions of the former National Coordinator as reckless and negligent as a public officer.
She said there was no form of remorse from Assibit, even though the convicts were first time offenders, they are not young offenders, and they were responsible adults in society who should know better.
She said from all indications, Assibit was bent on holding on to proceeds of his false representation and therefore, the State must recover any asset of Assibit to the tune of payments made to him of over 1.9 million dollars.
She commended Mrs. Evelyn Keelson, the Chief State Attorney for filing the prosecution’s submission on time and urged other lawyers to emulate her example.
The facts of the case, as presented by Mrs Keelson, were that in 2009, Pele, on assumption of office as the National Co-ordinator of the NYEP, entered into a contract with Assibit.
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 said.
Assibit, between May 2011 and May 2012, “made a number of payment claims for consultancy services purportedly rendered to the NYEP.
The services range from the provision of exit plan, and strategy for all NYEP modules, and established a Youth Enterprise Development Project.
He claimed to have used the plans in securing approval for a World Bank facility of $65 million for the NYEP and had recruited and trained 250 youth to support the implementation of what he referred to as the World Bank-funded Youth Enterprise Development Programme (YEDP),” it said.