…State witness claims
According to legal experts, a notary serves as an important extra witness to the consummation of a formal legal agreement. His/her decision to notarize a particular document confirms that the document was created with the knowledge, and consent of the parties to it.
However, during his testimony on Wednesday, July 17, Aaron Henry Aboah, who led the Special Presidential Investigative Taskforce that traveled to South Africa, and the United Kingdom (UK) in 2016, to investigate the Global Witness US$950,000 alleged bribery scandal that involved several current, and past government officials, including Senator Varney Sherman of Grand Cape Mount County, informed Criminal Court ‘C’ that the emails evidence believed to be statement of executives of Sable Mining given to them in that country were never notarized.
The state rebuttal witness further explained that while his team was in South Africa, they spoke with one Paul O. Sullivan, believed to be Global Witness’ investigative journalist, who confirmed that the emails were actually exchanges between Sable Mining and the company’s lawyer at the time, Sherman.
The Global Witness on May 11, 2016, released a report entitled; “The Deceivers” where they claimed that Sherman and his law firm instructed Sable Mining to disburse US$950,000 to individuals, both in government at the time, and out of government, to insert Section 75 into the Amended and Restatement Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC) Act of 2010, without going through a bidding process to award the Wologisi Mountain to Sable Mining.
Responding to a question on the notarization, Aboah said, “I cannot speak to it as the documents that were given to me in South Africa were not notarized. But an affidavit believed to be a statement of Henie Van Neikerk, the country director of Sable Mining was handed to the investigation by the late Cllr. Theophlius Gould, who himself was then a hired special prosecutor.
Aboah testified that Cllr. Gould was not a part of his team that traveled to South Africa.
“Heine Van Neikerk gave an affidavit to Gould, who presented them to our team of investigators,” the state rebuttal witness testified, though he did not say where late Gould managed to collect the affidavit from Van Neikerk.
Again, asked to give specific parties that exchanged the emails that were not notarized, he replied, “I cannot name one by one or person as they were in bulk, and I had no sufficient time to see those emails and to take a look at them so as to specifically pin point the exact emails as the investigative report does not show those emails and they were submitted separately.”
He added: “If I were to see them I would be able to identify them by their wordings as some of those emails were in chain from one person to another person. You pass it to me, I pass it to another person. As you may know, those documents were handled to me three years ago, and from that time, I cannot remember name by name.”
When testified, Sherman claimed that the emails were fraudulent, and hacked by the Global Witness, which testimonies, Aboah denied.
“At no time did the investigation doctored or fake any of those documents. So the emails in question were all exchanges that were given to us during the course of the investigation.”
Asked by Judge Peter Gbeneweleh, who presided as a judge and jury, to explain the legal means through which the emails were given to be used against the defendants, Aboah responded: “While in the UK, all of the legal formalities were handled by Global Witness and thereafter, communicated to Grand Kru County District #2 Representative J. Fonati Koffa, then chairman of the Taskforce.”
Again asked whether his team presented copy of that communication as evidence before the court, in response, the state rebuttal witness said, “the presidential taskforce had a chairperson and it had a prosecuting arm, I only served as the supervisor of the investigative team. Whatever document that was filed before the court I would not remember off head, because I was not a foundation witness to have submitted all documents to the court. I therefore, cannot be precise to answer this question.”
Addressing the issue of the alleged payment made by Sherman to past and present government officials, Abaoh explained that they obtained the information about the payment from the spreadsheet of Sable Mining.
“We used the spreadsheet to verify the amount that were paid to Sherman. We also requested the bank statement of Sable Mining and Sherman and that statement the date and the amount as indicated on the spreadsheet.
However, Aboah testified that the bank statement did not name those individuals that were listed on the spreadsheet.
“The return check showed that payments were made to employees of Sherman and Sherman Law Firm which the investigation thought that these amounts were far too huge to be salaries of employees,” the rebuttal witness said in his testimony.
“Former Speaker Alex Tyler on the spreadsheet demanded for US$250,000 to change the law but only US$75,000 was received, but the bank statement showed that the amount was paid as per the spreadsheet.
Unfortunately, the return check did not show the amount in question being paid to Speaker Tyler,” Aboah said.