Twenty children of the late business magnate and chief of Nkawie in the Ashanti Region, Bernard Mensah Kufuor, have mounted a legal challenge to how his numerous properties and huge foreign currency accounts in Ghana and abroad were vested in his niece and two of his children, 34 years after his death.
They claim that Mrs. Comfort Joyce Wereko-Brobbey, the niece, and Ben and David Kufuor, the children, used fraudulent means to take custody of the estates of the deceased, who was also the uncle of former President John Agyekum Kufuor.
Consequently, they have filed a writ at the Kumasi High Court seeking a declaration that all properties the late Mensah Kufuor mentioned in his will of May 9, 1964, and any other properties not specifically mentioned in the will fell into intestacy and should be vested in the estate of the deceased.
Among the numerous properties the deceased acquired in his lifetime are Ghana Primewood Products Limited in Takoradi, Bibiani Logging and Lumber Company Limited in Kumasi, Kufuor and Sons Furniture Limited in Kumasi, Atwima Timbers, Kumasi, Dormaa Sawmills, several tracts of lands in Accra, Kumasi and other parts of Ghana and two landed properties in England.
He also left behind a number of foreign accounts, including 560,000 Pounds Sterling in a UK bank account.
In their statement of claim filed by Accra-based lawyer, Egbert Faibille Jnr, the plaintiffs said prior to his death, the deceased executed a will in Ghana on May 9, 1964, which made Mrs. Wereko-Brobbey the biggest beneficiary of the estate, including two properties in England.
It said on October 19, 1964, the deceased executed another will in London in which he expressly revoked all former wills and codicils he made, and declared the England will to be his will.
The statement said the deceased also directed his executors and trustees of his England will to sell one of his buildings in London and share the proceeds among his children who survived him on his death, and also sell the other London property with the proceeds going to Mrs. Wereko-Brobbey.
Besides, the England will, according to the statement, directed that on his death, the cash balance in his West Pennsylvaniwa Banking Trust in the USA be handed over to his wife, Justina Kufuor.
It said the Kumasi High Court granted a probate of the deceased's Ghana will to the executors and the deceased's two properties in London went to Mrs Wereko-Brobbey, who then proceeded to London to take possession of the properties.
Plaintiffs stated that it was in London that Mrs. Wereko-Brobbey realized her uncle made another will there, which superseded the Ghana one.
The statement said Mrs Wereko-Brobbey and David Kufuor made false presentations to the Probate Division of the High Court, England, to the effect that they were entitled to be granted letters of administration in respect of the estate of the deceased.
It said Mrs. Wereko-Brobbey's failure to inform the family of the deceased about the England will when she knew that will cancelled the Ghana will was fraudulent and could not, therefore, stand.
According to the statement, Mrs. Wereko-Brobbey had taken over Bibiani Logging and Lumber Company Limited while Ben Kufuor had taken over Ghana Primewood Products Limited with David Kufuor taking ownership of Atwima Timbers Limited.
It said when the plaintiffs found out that the whole deal that handed over the biggest share of the estates of the deceased to the defendants was fraudulent, their lawyer wrote to them pointing out the illegality of their actions and demanded that hey relinquish all properties that had found their way to them.
The statement said a search conducted at the High Court registry in Kumasi by the plaintiffs revealed to their surprise that the late Mensah Kufuor did not deposit any will there.
“The defendants have been most fraudulent in their actions and conduct in respect of the estate of the late Bernard Mensah Kufuor,” it added, noting that only the court order “could compel them to release the assets of the deceased not mentioned in his England will.”