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23.03.2004 General News

Two in C2.6bn ghost names scandal plead guilty

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Accra March 23, GNA - Two out of three persons charged with 90 counts of conspiracy, possessing and uttering of forged Bank of Ghana cheques and stealing 2.6 billion cedis pleaded guilty to 50 of the counts when they appeared before a Fast Track High Court in Accra on Tuesday.

The two, Abubakari Mohammed Amunda, Accounts Clerk of Ghana Education Service (GES) and Prince Mahama Sagri, Accountant of the West Mamprusi Community Bank, pleaded guilty while Atta Kofi Amenuvor, Head of the Computer Section at the Controller and Accountant-General's Department, pleaded not guilty to all the counts he was charged with. Sagri pleaded not guilty to 18 of the counts brought against him. Three persons allegedly conspired and stole the 2.6 billion cedis belonging to the GES.

They were alleged to have forged signatures on 18 cheques and fraudulently cashed monies meant to be salaries of staffs and non-staffs of GES in the Upper West, Upper East and Northern Regions, between January 2000 and July 2001.

The Court admitted Amenuvor to three billion cedis bail with two sureties to be justified, while Amunda and Sagri were admitted to bail in the sum of 200 million cedis each with two sureties to be justified. Mr S.K. Amoah, who represented Amenuvor, told the Court that his client did not know the two other accused persons.

Counsel prayed the Court that since his client comported himself when he appeared before two lower courts, he should be admitted to bail. Counsel for Amunda and Sagri told the Court that his clients had admitted to the offences and had agreed to refund the monies. He said he had communicated their position to the Prosecutor and, therefore, urged the Court to admit them to bail.

Mr Anthony Gyambiby, Chief State Attorney, prosecuting, told the Court presided over by Mr Justice Yaw Appau that he did not object to bail, but stated that the bail offered to them should be substantial. Mr Gyambiby said they would consider the proposal of the Defence on the refund adding that the case would be continued.

The Court after listening to submissions from both sides admitted all the accused persons to bail and adjourned the case to April 6. The Prosecution said in July 2002, the Auditor-General, Mr Edward Dua Agyeman presented his findings of certain irregularities about the payment of salaries of GES staffs in the three Northern Regions.

The Prosecution said the Mr Agyeman requested the Police to investigate the irregularities and it came to light that 18 duplicated cheques bore some resemblance and the duplicated ones had higher face value.

It also came out during the investigation that Amenuvor approached Amunda to find someone at the West Mamprusi Community Bank who could swap the duplicated cheques for the original and Sagri was recruited. They undertook the transaction for about a year.

Anytime Amuda cashed the money he sent it by a State Transport Company (STC) bus to the STC yard in Accra where it was shared. Over the period Amuda and Sagri received a total of 90 million cedis and 80 million cedis, respectively, while Amenuvor took the rest of the booty.

The Prosecution said as a result, 2.6 billion cedis were lost to the State. The Prosecution said it intended to call six witnesses.