The investigator from the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) who investigated the charges of financial loss affecting former Foreign Minister Mr. Akwasi Osei Agyei, has said that eleven out of the 28 companies that bought the rice were not part of the original tender to sell the rice!
He has also said, under cross-examination that some of the companies that bought the rice bought them at quotations lower than those quoted in their bids.
Mr. Akwasi Osei Agyei, former Foreign Minister under the New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration, and Mr. Charles Gyimah, former Chief Executive Officer of the National Investment Bank, are standing trial before a Fast Track High Court in Accra on charges related to causing financial loss, and diversion of 300, 000 bags of rice imported from India.
Under cross examination by Colonel (Rtd) Johnson, the counsel for Mr. Charles Gyimah, the witness said that several companies that won the bid to buy the rice were not part of the original set of companies that put in tenders to buy the rice.
He said that even though 38 companies put in bids to buy the rice and 28 companies were finally shortlisted, eleven of those that actually bought the rice did not put in tenders or quotations at all, but bought some of the rice all the same.
Again, he said under cross-examination that some of the companies that bought the rice bought them at prices that are lower than those quoted in the bids.
The witness Godfred Agyapong, under further cross-examination said that the investigation was conducted by a team of seven investigators in his outfit. He remembered the names of five of them, and said that interrogation of a witness was done by one officer who was not part of the investigators.
He said that the Ministry of Trade and Industry had expressed interest in importing the rice at a point. He did not take a statement from the former Minister of Trade and Industry under whose tenure the whole business commenced, he told the court.
Mr. Agyapong said that he did not conduct the entire investigation and so cannot speak to all aspects of the case. He told the court that he had concluded that there was financial loss.
Counsel told witness repeatedly that he was confused when he said that he did not come across any evidence suggesting that the importation was ordered by President Kufuor. This is because he had a statement from one Mr. Sarpong Ampratwum of NIB suggesting that the importation was ordered by the former President.
He said that he did not take a statement from President Kufuor, or the High Commissioner from India.
He said that he did not investigate a memorandum from Cabinet on the rice issue.
At a point the witness said that he did not know in answer to a question, prompting a statement from the lawyer to the effect that there are a lot of things he did not know as an investigator.
He said that by the time the rice arrived at the Tema Harbour Mr. Charles Gyimah was no longer the Chief Executive of NIB. He said that the rice was sold by a committee at the bank, of which Mr. Gyimah was not a part. He said that when the rice arrived at the ports the NIB took charge of the rice, but when they informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs they told them that they had not imported any rice.
He said that at the time that the rice was being sold the 2nd accused person was not in office at the NIB.
Cross-examination continues on June 17.