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31.12.2007 General News

Embezzlement: Two suspects for court January 23

The prosecution of Nicholas Sakyi and Joseph Kofi Yeboah, the two men whose delayed prosecution created furore at the public sittings of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament, will resume on January 23,2008 at the Accra Fast Track High Court.

Sakyi, an accountant at the Department of Urban Roads (DUR) office in Kumasi, and Yeboah were alleged to have embezzled withholding tax deductions of ¢4.3 billion meant for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) between 2002 and 2005.

Since they were arrested in 2005, they have not been prosecuted and the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), which effected their arrest, explained to the PAC that the BNI had not received any word from the Attorney-General's Department after it had forwarded the docket on the case for advice.

The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr Joe Ghartey, initially denied knowledge of any such docket but later admitted before the PAC that the docket was with his staff and subsequently apologised to the BNI.

A source at the BNI has told the Daily Graphic that the two suspects were initially discharged by the Circuit Court after a Principal State Attorney, Mr William Kpobi, had entered a nolle prosequi against them.

It said Sakyi and Yeboah were, however, re-arrested and arraigned before the Fast Track High Court, presided over by Mr Justice A.K. Acquaye.

It said the two, who pleaded not guilty to six counts of stealing, were granted bail in the sum of ¢2 billion each, with two sureties to be justified.

The source said the two had not been able to meet the bail conditions and were, therefore, still in custody.

It said witness summons had been served on two persons to testify at the next adjourned date.

According to the 2005 Auditor General's Report, between 2002 and 2005, 51 cheques written in favour of the IRS for the payment of withholding tax deductions amounting to ¢4.3 billion were allegedly altered by Sakyi, who lodged the money in the accounts of fictitious companies he and Yeboah had opened with the Atwima Rural Bank, namely, I.R. Samuel and Sons Limited, J .R. Samuel and Sons Limited and I.R. Service Limited.

After the cheques had been signed in the name of the IRS, the suspects were alleged to have manipulated them to reflect the names of the fictitious companies.

They were subsequently arrested by the BNI.

Source: Daily Graphic