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18.07.2005 Crime & Punishment

Judges Arrested Over $50,000 Scandal

Daily Guide

TWO HIGH Court Judges, and a senior High Court Registrar, have been arraigned before an Accra High Court for allegedly conspiring to steal ¢115.18 million.

The three senior personnel in the Judiciary have been accused of illegally investing, and sharing the interest accruing from a fixed deposit of $50,754.94, belonging to two feuding parties, being held in trust by the Ketu High Court at Denu.

The accused persons are Justice Edward Mensah Boateng, a High Court Judge now on interdiction, Jacob Dickson Owusu, a former Senior High Court Registrar in-charge of the Denu Court at the time of the incident and Justice Michael Kwasi Woanyah, a retired High Court Judge, whose last station was Denu.

According to the facts of the case, the first accused, Justice Edward Mensah Boateng, who presided over a litigation between two parties, claiming a portion of land being used as a quarry by the Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company at Denu, ordered that the company pay an amount of $50,754.94 to the court, to be held in trust for whoever emerges as the owner of the land, being contested.

The company, subsequently, paid the amount to the second accused, Jacob Dickson Owusu, the senior court registrar at the Denu High Court, who is at the centre of the scandal.

Following the payment of the amount to the court, as demanded by Justice Edward Mensah Boateng, the presiding judge, the registrar allegedly connived with him (Edward Mensah Boateng) to invest the money in a fixed deposit account and share the interest accruing there from.

The two allegedly changed the dollars into cedis, and opened an account at the Denu branch of the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB).

Before the deposit could mature, however the first accused was transferred to Sefwi-Wiawso in the Western Region. While at his new station, he allegedly dispatched his wife to Denu to withdraw the accrued interest. Between October 2001 and May 2004, a total amount of ¢115,173,561.66 accrued, as interest on the fixed deposit, which was withdrawn seven times by the second accused person, who shared it, four times, with the first accused, and three times with the third accused persons.

In November 2002, when the third accused, Justice Woanyah, was transferred to Denu, the second accused briefed him of the sharing arrangement between him and the first accused. Justice Woanyah advised him to stop sharing the money with the first accused, since he, Woanyah had taken over as judge of the Denu Court.

When the information of the scandal got to the notice of the Judicial Service, a complaint was formally, made to the Police, who arrested the accused persons, and arraigned them before court.

The case being presided over by Justice Avril Anim-Yeboah, could, however, not be heard last Friday because, according to the Chief State Attorney, Getrude Aikins, the investigator of the case was indisposed, and needed time to recover for the case to continue.

The first accused, Justice Edward Mensah Boateng, is already on interdiction. The case has been adjourned to July 27, 2005.