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15.12.2009 Crime & Punishment

Bishop Vagalas Kanco Granted GH¢300,000 Bail

By Daily Graphic
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The General Overseer of the Vineyard Chapel International, Bishop Vagalas Kanco, was yesterday granted bail in the sum of GH¢300,000 with three sureties by the Accra Circuit court.

Bishop Kanco is standing trial for allegedly defrauding a British national to the tune of £120,000. He was alleged to have lured the complainant, Ms Clova Sutherland, into believing that she would die if she did not allow him to pray over a £120,000 cheque she had issued in the name of her former lover.

According to the prosecution, Bishop Kanco managed to convince the complainant to re-issue the cheque in his name in order for him to pray over it and return it to her on a later date.

But he has denied any wrongdoing, claiming the money was a gift. Bishop Kanco, who has pleaded not guilty to one count of defrauding by false pretence, was remanded on his first appearance on December 11, 2009.

The court, presided over by Mr D. E. K. Daketsey, granted bail to the accused person after his lawyer, Mr Dominic Ayine, had prayed it to admit his client to bail.

Counsel had stated that Bishop Kanco was a “very respected and respectable man of God” who had a large congregation and would avail himself for trial.

During and after court proceedings, members of Bishop Kanco's congregation vented their spleen on the media for giving the accused person bad publicity.

They cursed the media and claimed that Bishop Kanco had received the money as a gift after he had prayed to cure the complainant of a serious ailment.

A Metro TV cameraman was heckled when he attempted to take a shot of Bishop Kanco entering his vehicle. The Bishop was shielded from the cameras but the cameraman went on to perform his job.

Earlier, the complainant in the case, Ms Sutherland, had testified and told the court that she had met Bishop Kanco at a crusade in London in March 2003 where she informed him of her problems with her partner during a counselling session.

“He told me that my former partner was evil and dangerous and that he was going to kill me. He (the Bishop) said he would save my life through persuasive prayers,” she told the court.

She said she had informed the accused person that she was supposed to pay a specified amount to her former partner and that she had issued a cheque for £120,000 in her partner's name but he had rejected the cheque.

Led by a Deputy Superintendent of Police, Mr P. K. Frimpong, in her evidence-in-chief, Ms Sutherland told the court that Bishop Kanco had managed to convince her to re-issue the cheque in his name for “safe-keeping and intensive prayers”, adding that she eventually instructed her solicitors to re-issue the cheque in the name of the accused person on April 28, 2003.

She said after giving out the cheque, Bishop Kanco had informed her that he and his wife had been spiritually attacked by her former lover.

“He gave me an oral undertaken that he would not cash the cheque. He repeatedly re-assured me that he would not cash the cheque and that the sole purpose was to pray over it and return same to me in three months,” the witness told the court.

According to the complainant, her solicitors, Parker Arrenberg and Co, had re-issued the cheque in Bishop Kanco's name but claimed that the accused person neither showed up for another crusade in London nor returned the cheque as promised.

Ms Sutherland, who is a legal practitioner, said she could not reach the accused person on the telephone number he had provided and a further check to ascertain the status of the cheque revealed that the Bishop had withdrawn the money at the Makola Branch of the Barclays Bank on May 19, 2003.

She further informed the court that she made several attempts, through distinguished pastors, in her bid to reclaim her money but those interventions did not yield any positive results.

“He cashed the cheque without my authority or consent, in breach of the oral undertaken he had previously given me,” the witness stated, and pointed out that after several attempts to reach the accused person had proved futile, she instructed her solicitors to write to him on July 25, 2005.

She said she had to date not received any response from the accused person and, therefore, she decided to follow up to Ghana to pursue justice.

She also told the court that she had since gone for another £120,000 to repay her former partner. During cross-examination, the following transpired between Mr Ayine and Ms Sutherland:

Mr Ayine: Do you understand a cheque qualifies as a bill of exchange, a promissory note or a negotiable instrument? Ms Sutherland: I gave the cheque based on his personal undertaking that he won't cash it. Hearing continues today.

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