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04.06.2008 Crime & Punishment

Businessman jailed for fraud

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An Accra Circuit Court on Wednesday sentenced a businessman, Victor Michael Abbey, to a total jail term of 14 years in hard labour for defrauding an Angolan businessman of 650,000 dollars.
Abbey is said to have collected the money under the pretext of preparing documents to commence the setting up of business in Ghana but failed to do so.
He pleaded not guilty.
The court, presided over Mr Justice Kwadwo Owusu, however, found him guilty on seven counts of conspiracy, defrauding by false pretences, uttering forged documents and forgery.
The court therefore convicted him to two years imprisonment on each count. The sentences are to run consecutively. This means Abbey would serve 14 years in jail.
Handing down the sentence, the court noted that the amount extracted from the complainant Mr Lorelco Gilde was colossal and the sentence was to serve as deterrent to persons who engaged in Advance Fee Fraud (419).
The court further noted that the complainant had incurred debt because he had travelled to Ghana for the trial and had to stay in a hotel since February this year until the end of the trial.
It noted that Abbey who never showed any remorse denied every bit of prosecution's evidence and lied to the court.
The court ordered that a VW Golf Saloon car registered in the name of Gideon Conte be confiscated, sold and proceeds deposited into state coffers and an amount of 1,400 GH cedis retrieved from his accomplices, who are large, be paid into state coffers.
The prosecution told the court that the complainant, Mr Gilde was engaged in import and export of beer and poultry products in Angola.
The prosecutor said in 2005, Mr Gilde had business discussion with one Philip Tembe in Sierra Leone about his intention to invest in Ghana.
The prosecution said Tembe assured Mr Gilde he would find a business partner in Ghana and he would assist him with seed capital of 10 million US dollars by June 2005.
The complainant was subsequently introduced to a company called Standard Security Limited at Sakumono in Tema where the said 10 million dollars had been kept for security reasons.
The prosecutor said Abbey emerged and introduced himself as Police officer of the National Drug Enforcement Agency in Ghana who had been attached to the Security Company to ensure that every investment fund brought into the country was not drug related.
Abbey therefore demanded and collected 158,000 dollars for the preparation of documents to show that the amount was not drug related.
Mr Gilde further paid 247,000 dollars for the preparation of an anti- terrorism certificate for him and 20,000 dollars as Insurance Premium for the period that the 10 million dollars would be with the Security Company and additional 100,000 dollars to procure business certificate for Mr Gilde's company.
Emaika Kennedy, an accomplice, also collected 9,000 dollars for the services that the security company was rendering.
When the complainant checked on a business account number provided by Abbey, it was found to be fake.

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