JOE Ghartey, the Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, who was subpoenaed by an Accra Commercial Court to testify in a legal tussle involving the sale of Ghana Telecom, has ended his testimony maintaining that the sale of the telecom company to Vodafone International BV was constitutional.

At the court, presided over by Justice Gertrude Torkornoo, the former Attorney General stated that the Vodafone agreement received parliamentary approval and, therefore, did not flout any Divestiture Implementation Committee (DIC) law.

Bright Akwetey, counsel for the plaintiff who was cross-examining the former AG, put it to him that government flouted the National Communications Authority Act by creating a monopoly for Vodafone in the Sale and Purchase Agreement (SPA) to use the state?s fibre optic cables which was not part of the agreement for five years.

In response, Mr Ghartey disagreed and indicated that a letter from the NCA confirmed that the agreement was not in breach of any law in Ghana.

Mr Akwetey pointed out to the witness that the NCA, which was required to establish a situation to safeguard the communication security of the state, knew nothing about the SPA until its execution on July 3, 2010. But Mr Ghartey refuted, stating that constitutionally, the agreement was not enforceable by the July 3.

Mr Ghartey further stated that he was not aware of claims by the lawyer that government defied the NCA law by waiving the licensing fee of $28.5million Vodafone was supposed to pay without public tender.

According to Mr Ghartey, who gave an advice on the sale, the agreement went to parliament and all the issues were raised before approval. Also he said such questions could be directed at the Minister of Communications.

Mr Akwetey put it to the witness that ?the minister for communications acted in excess of his authority by waiving the licensing fee?, but Mr Ghartey, who was visibly not happy about the line of questioning, replied ?I was not the Minister. The Minister of Communications will be in a better position to answer that.?

Ecobank Development Corporation, commissioned by government instead of DIC to do the evaluation according to Mr Akwetey, only did a publication of the 70 per cent shares sold to Vodafone in the Economist paper and not in the Ghanaian papers. But the witness said he could not remember where it was advertised.

The transaction advisers reportedly had valued the 70 per cent shares of Ghana Telecom at $1.613billion, but government allegedly dismissed the advisers and reduced the amount to $900million. However, Mr Ghartey denied knowledge of this.

Mr. Akwetey suggested to the witness that government by giving all the five fibre optic cables to Vodafone handed over the whole national communication backbone company to Vodafone by ignoring the confidentiality of communication in Ghana. But Mr Ghartey denied it, saying the cables were part of the agreement and was approved by parliament.

The matter has been adjourned to July 10.

Before the case was adjourned, counsel for the witness drew the court?s attention to an untruth publication in the Ghanaian Times newspaper on June 18, which suggested that Mr Ghartey had deliberately refused to honour the court subpoena despite being served with a notice.

Frank Davies, the lawyer, expressed displeasure with the reportage and prayed the court to order them to retract and apologise.

The court subsequently directed the editor of the newspaper to report the correct version of what transpired in court that day as most of the paragraphs of the said reportage were untrue.

The former Minister for Justice and the Attorney-General who gave an advice on the sale of the Ghana Telecom while under-cross examination by Mr Bright Akwetey, counsel for the plaintiffs, denied the assertion that the government created a monopoly for Vodafone in the Sale and Purchase Agreement for the use of fibre optic cables for five years.

that the president had no right in privatizing the state enterprise except the Divestiture Implementation Committee(DIC).

Mr. Ghartey explained that the President had the prerogative to do the privatization without consulting the DIC.

Mr. Akwetey posed a question to the former AG that per the DIC law, the council that was supposed to sit

The Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Joe Ghartey, appeared before the Commercial Court on Tuesday to testify in the litigation involving the sale of Ghana Telecom to Vodafone International BV in 2008.

Source-Daily Guide

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