The Accra High Court has granted bail in the sum of Gh₵5million with two sureties to a former CEO of the Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC), Mrs Sedina Tamakloe Attionu.
Attionu was on Monday granted bail by the court, presided over by Mrs Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe, after she pleaded not guilty to 78 counts of causing financial loss to the state, stealing, contravention of the public procurement act, among other charges.
The 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 first and second accused persons.
The investigations, the state says, revealed that in June 2014, MASLOC invested a sum of GH¢150,000 in Obaatanpa Microfinance Company Limited (Obaatanpa), a licenced Tier II microfinance company located at Ejura in the Ashanti Region. After that, the first accused person offered Obaatanpa a further investment sum of GH¢500,000. As a result, a MASLOC Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) cheque dated July 24, 2014, in the sum of GH¢500,000 was drawn in favour of Obaatanpa.
Soon after Obaatanpa received the MASLOC cheque, the first accused person informed the board chairman of Obaatanpa that the investment amount of GH¢500,000 would attract 24 per cent 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 the refund of the loan amount.
The facts further state that upon presentation of the cheque, the first 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 first accused person by the board chairman of Obaatanpa on the night of August 28, 2014, at the Baatsona Total Filling Station located on the Spintex Road in Accra. By a letter dated August 28, 2014, the first accused person acknowledged receipt of the refunded sum.
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 first 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 first accused person had appropriated the amount of GH¢500,000.
Investigations further revealed that in April 2016, the first accused person obtained approval of the MASLOC board to utilize the sum of GH¢1,706,000 of MASLOC funds for a countrywide sensitisation and monitoring programme for 85,300 beneficiaries of MASLOC loans.
Each of the targeted 85,300 beneficiaries was to receive GH¢20 to cover transportation and refreshment. Between April and December 2016, upon the authority of the first accused person, a total sum of GH¢1,816,000 withdrawn in tranches was received by the first and second accused persons even though the MASLOC board had given approval for a sum of GH¢1,706,000.
Again, investigations revealed that out of the sum of GH¢1,816,000 only GH¢1,300 was spent on refreshment for some beneficiaries in the Volta, Greater-Accra and Brong-Ahafo Regions only, and that no programme whatsoever took place in the other seven regions.
The state, in her brief facts, further disclosed that investigations further revealed that before the board’s approval, the first accused person also appropriated GH¢246,280 meant for training, sensitization and financial literacy.
The investigations, the state says, disclosed that in 2013, following a fire disaster at the Kantamanto market, the then President John Mahama directed MASLOC to provide an assistance of GH¢1,465,035 to victims of the fire disaster.
The money was, however, to be disbursed through Dwadifo Adamfo Savings & Loans Company Limited (Dwadifo Adamfo). The state enquiries, it says, showed that the first accused person appropriated GH¢579,800 out of the sum of GH¢1,465,035.
In August 2016, the first accused person on behalf of MASLOC wrote to the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) for approval to procure vehicles from Mac Autos and Spare Parts Limited (Mac Autos) for the GPRTU using the single source method under the Public Procurement Act.
In October 2016, the PPA wrote back to MASLOC requesting MASLOC to furnish it with financial arrangement approved by the Ministry of Finance. On December 5, 2016, the then Minister of Finance wrote to the PPA to confirm financial arrangements which were being put in place for the purchase of vehicles.
Without any approval from PPA, the first accused person signed a contract with Mac Autos on December 6, 2016, to supply MASLOC with 350 vehicles comprising 150 Chevy Aveo Saloon, 100 Chevy Sparklite and 33-seater Isuzu buses. MASLOC applied for a tax waiver on all the vehicles.
The unit price offered by Mac Autos to MASLOC for the Chevy Aveo was GH¢74,495 ($18,883.39). However, investigations revealed that the actual retail price Mac offered for the same model within the same year without duty was GH¢47,346.93 ($12,009.91).
The unit price offered for the Chevy Sparklite was GH¢ 65,095.00 ($16,500.63) when the actual price offered by Mac Autos within that same period without duty was GH¢35,918.37 ($9,104.77).
For the Isuzu 33-seater buses, the unit price offered to MASLOC was GH¢445,560 ($112,942.96) but the actual retail price without duty was GH¢293,877.55 ($74,493.67).