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24.01.2007 Politics

"CEO" Held For $100,000 Bank Fraud

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A major scandal involving a bank in New York and a reputable bank in Ghana has emerged following the withdrawal of $100,982 (about ยข1 billion) from the Ghanaian bank by a suspected fraudster. The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Temecular Investment Limited, a company registered in Ghana, Kwaku Owusu-Bempah, is being held following a 15-day ultimatum issued by the New York bank to the bank in Ghana to refund the amount, which it claimed was illegally cashed by the suspect.

The Accra Regional Crime Officer, Chief Superintendent Boi-Bi-Boi, said on January 11, 2007, Ernest Nunoo, the Head of Retail Banking of the Ghanaian bank, reported to the police that on March 1, 2006, Owusu-Bempah and two others now at large, Kwaku Gyamfi and Abena Gyimah, opened a foreign account with the Adabraka Branch of the bank. He said they deposited a cheque for $100,982 bearing the name of their company, Temecular Investment Limited, from the foreign bank.

Mr Boi-Bi-Boi said the cheque was transferred to the foreign bank for clearance and after 14 days it was cleared and the local bank was credited with the amount of $100,982. After that transaction, the foreign bank complained that the cheque had originally been issued to a company in the US called Northrob Grumman by MBG Customers Dollar External account but had ended up in the hands of the suspects who altered it into their company's name and managed to clear it.

He said Owusu-Bempah, who was the sole signatory to the account, commenced withdrawing the money effective March 29, 2006. He said the suspect first withdrew $14,500, followed by $7,500, $21,000, $50,000, with the other withdrawals varying from $100 to $1,000. Within eight months he had withdrawn all the money. The Crime Officer said on December 26, 2006, the Ghanaian bank received a fax from the New York bank to the effect that the cheque deposited by the suspect was a stolen one. He said when the suspect showed up at the bank to withdraw the last amount remaining in his account, he was arrested and handed over to the police for investigations.

Upon interrogation, the suspect claimed that he did not know the source of the cheque. Meanwhile he had earlier told the bank before depositing the cheque that the money was his gratuity, after working in the US for several years. Mr Boi-Bi-Boi said investigations had revealed that the suspect, after stumbling on the cheque, quickly applied to the Registrar-General's Department to register a company. He said on February 16, 2006, the suspect received a certificate of incorporation from the Registrar-General's Department on behalf of Temecular Investments Ltd and finally received a certificate to commence business on February 23, 2006.

He said the company had three directors, with Kwaku Owusu-Bempah as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Kwaku Gyamfi, Director, and Abena Gyimah, Secretary. The Crime Officer said the authorised business of the company included import and export services, building and road construction, civil engineering works, general farming and manufacturers' representatives. He said Owusu-Bempah, who was the CEO, was the largest shareholder with 80 per cent, Kwaku Gyamfi, Director, 10 per cent, and Abena Gyimah, Secretary, 10 per cent.

Apart from indicating the share distribution of the partners, no contribution was made to finance the business but a foreign account was opened with a cheque for $100,982 as the only source of finance for the company.That, he said, was a clear indication that Temecular Investments Limited was established only to have the chance to clear the cheque in the possession of its directors.

Investigations are continuing.

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