ACCRA (Reuters) - Four members of Ghana's political elite were charged with corruption on Monday, threatening to further tarnish the ruling party's reputation in election year following the departure of two senior ministers last month.
Alfred Agbesi Woyome, a prominent supporter of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), was charged with crimes including corrupting public officials over a multi-million dollar payment that a government inquiry alleged he had claimed illegally.
A source close to the presidency told Reuters the resignation of Education Minister Betty Mould Iddrisu last month was linked to the decision to pay 51 million cedis to Woyome over a construction deal he said was wrongly terminated. Iddrisu had been among the ministers who had authorised the payment, the source said.
The court in the capital Accra also charged chief attorney Samuel Nerquaye-Tetteh, his wife and the finance ministry's legal director with aiding and abetting a crime.
The three men, all of whom pleaded not guilty, were remanded in custody. The chief attorney's wife, who also denies the charges, was granted bail.
President John Atta Mills' critics say he remains soft on corruption, but he has touted his record against corruption ahead of a presidential election in December and ordered the investigation into payments to Woyome. That found the businessman had made false claims, leading to the court case.
A week before Iddrisu's resignation as education minister, Mills sacked Justice Minister and Attorney General Martin Amidu for accusing some cabinet ministers of "gargantuan crimes against the state" without backing up his claims with evidence.