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MASLOC CASE: High Court Adjourns Sitting to January 8, 2020

Financial and Tax High Court presided over by Justice Afia Serwaa Asare Botwe has adjourned sitting on the ongoing trial of the case of the Republic versus Sedina Christine Tamakloe Attionu and Another, to the 8th of January 2020 due to the unavailability of defence lawyer for the second accused person the whole of the month of December 2019.

Defence lawyers in the case (Agbesi Dzakpasu for 1st Accused and Augustin Obour for the 2nd Accused person) ended their cross-examination of the second Prosecution Witness in the case, Samuel Quansah, an accountant of Obaatanpa Microfinance Limited, today the 26th of November 2019.

The State was expected to call its third (3rd) Prosecution Witness, the Board Chairman of the Obaatanpa Microfinance Finance Company Limited, Seth Aseidu Obugyei, on the 27th and 28th of November 2019. However, due to the Service of Thanksgiving in Honour of Her Ladyship, Justice Sophia Akuffo, Chief Justice of the Republic of Ghana, that has been fixed for the 28th of November 2019, the Court is unable to sit in the remaining days in the month of November.

Additionally, defence lawyer for the 2nd Accused person, Augustine Obour, indicated to the Court that he is practically not available in Accra the whole of the month of December 2019 and can therefore not attend Court.

Justice Afia Serwaa Asare Botwe’s Court obliged the defence lawyer and adjourned sitting to the 8th of January 2020 for the State to call her 3rd Witness.

Background and Facts of the Case

According to the brief facts as contained in the Charge Sheet filed at the Registry of the Criminal Division of the High Court in Accra, in 2017, the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) conducted investigations into certain fraudulent disbursement of MASLOC funds involving the 1st and 2nd accused persons.

The investigations, the state says, revealed that in June 2014, MASLOC invested a sum of GH¢150,000 in Obaatanpa Micro-Finance Company Limited (Obaatanpa), a licensed Tier II microfinance company located at Ejura in the Ashanti Region.

Thereafter, the 1st accused person offered Obaatanpa a further investment sum of GH¢500,000. As a result, a MASLOC Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) cheque dated 24th July, 2014, in the sum of GH¢500,000 was drawn in favour of Obaatanpa.

Soon after Obaatanpa received the MASLOC cheque, the 1st accused person informed the Board Chairman of Obaatanpa that the investment amount of GH¢500,000 would attract 24% interest. Obaatanpa decided to return the amount to MASLOC since the interest rate being demanded by the accused person was too high and unprofitable for its business and issued a cheque in refund of the loan amount.

The facts further state that upon presentation of the cheque, the 1st accused person declined to accept the cheque and made a demand for a cash refund. A cash amount of GH¢500,000 was delivered to the 1st accused person by the Board Chairman of Obaatanpa on the night of 28th August, 2014, at the Baatsona Total Filling Station located on the Spintex Road in Accra. By a letter dated 28th August, 2014, the 1st accused person acknowledged receipt of the refund sum.

In 2015, per letters, some of which were under the hand of the accused person, MASLOC made demands on Obaatanpa for the payment of interest on the principal investment sum of GH¢500,000.

In response to the demands, Obaatanpa wrote a reminder to MASLOC concerning the payment of the loan amount and drew the 1st accused person’s attention to the unjustified demands whereupon the demands stopped.

In 2017, upon the assumption of office of a new Chief Executive of MASLOC, a demand notice was again sent to Obaatanpa for the payment of accrued interest on the same investment sum of GH¢500,000 whereupon Obaatanpa once again informed MASLOC that the said money had already been refunded since 2014.

Investigations subsequently showed that MASLOC had no record of the amount having been paid to it and that the 1st accused person had appropriated the amount of GH¢500,000.

The facts further identified several other wrongdoings on the part of the accused persons that has lead to the loose of revenue to the State.

The Charges

According to the charge sheet as presented to the Court, count one (1) to thirty-five (35) are on charges of Stealing and Conspiracy to Commit Crime namely Stealing contrary to section 23(1) and 124(1) of the Criminal Offences Act 1960 (Act 29). Count thirty-six (36) to sixty-eight (68), are on Causing Financial Loss to the State, Wilfully Causing Financial to the State and Conspiracy to Commit Crime namely Wilfully Causing Financial to the State all of which are contrary to section 23(1) and 179A (3)(a) of the Criminal Offences Act 1960 (Act 29). Counts seventy (70) and seventy-one (71) bother on Causing Loss to Public Property, contrary to section 2 of the Public Property Protection Act 1977 (SMCD 140).

Furthermore, counts seventy-two (72) and seventy-three (73) has the statement of offense captured as Improper Payment of Public Funds contrary to section 96(1)(c) of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921). Count seventy-four charges the first accused person, Sedina Christine Tamakloe Attionu, with Unauthorised Commitment, Resulting in Financial Obligation for the Government contrary to section 96(1)(a) of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921). Count seventy-five (75) to seventy-eight (78) prefer charges of Money Laundering contrary to section 1(1)(c) of Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2008 (Act 749) and finally count seventy-nine (79) and eighty (80) bother on the charge of Contravention of the Public Procurement Act contrary to section 92(1), and 40(1)(a) of the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663).

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