A witness has told an Accra High Court that there was no document accompanying a GH¢500,000 cheque issued by the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC), Christine Sedina Tamakloe Attionu, detailing the interest payable on the investment made in Obaatanpa Microfinance Company Limited.
According to Samuel Quansah who is a board member of now defunct Obaatanpa Microfinance, he was only given a paper to sign when he went to the Secretariat of MASLCO to pick up the cheque to cash the money.
He said the management of the microfinance company were only informed about the interest payable on the investment by the board chairman of the company, Seth Asiedu Obugyei.
The issue came up in the trial of the ex-MASLOC boss when her lawyer, Agbesi Kwadzo Dzakpasu, during cross-examination demanded whether there was a document which detailed the interest payable on the two investments made by MASLOC in the private microfinance company.
There were conflicting views on the interest rate as the lawyer claimed that the board chairman had indicated in his statement to EOCO that the interest on the GH¢500,000 investment was 24 per cent per annum as against claims by the witness that it was 48 per cent per annum.
The lawyer said one Salifu Kwame, who was the manager of Obaatanpa, could have documents detailing the interest rates but the witness told the court that the said Salifu Kwame could have documents on the first investment (GH¢150,000) but there was no such document on the second investment of GH¢500,000.
This led to a back and forth situation between the lawyer and Mr. Quansah, who is the second prosecution witness in the trial.
“Are you aware that the Board Chairman, Nana Obugyei, had indicated in his statement at EOCO that the interest on the GH¢500,000 was 24 per cent?” the lawyer queried.
“My lord I’m not aware of the statement but as I mentioned earlier, Nana Obugyei was directly dealing with Madam Sedina so his version might be what Madam Sedina told him,” the witness replied.
Mr. Dzakpasu then asked, “Mr. Salifu Kwame, if indeed he exists, should have information on both the GH¢150,000 and the GH¢500,000 investment. Is that correct?
“That is correct because he was managing the company,” the witness replied.
“And Mr. Salifu Kwame can furnish the court with documents supporting the interest payable on these investments. Do you agree?” the lawyer asked.
“My lord with respect to the first one (GH¢150,000), I agree but the second one (GH¢500,000), I don’t because the cheque did not come with any accompanying documents. As I indicated yesterday, Mr. Seth Asiedu told me to go for a cheque of GH¢500,000 from MASLOC for another investment. When I went to the Secretariat of MASLOC, I only mentioned that I was coming for a check for Obaatanpa and they gave me a paper to sign. There was no document accompanying the cheque aside from the paper I signed,” the witness insisted.
Mr. Dzakpasu then asked the witness if he or any of the board members of Obaatanpa knew Ms. Attionu personally before the first investment and he replied that he did not personally know the accused person, adding “even now, I have never spoken to Madam Sedina.”
The witness in his evidence-in-chief had told the court that he accompanied the board chairman to Batsona Total on the Spintex road in Accra where he handed over MASLOC's GH¢500,000 investment in the company in a 'Ghana must go' bag as demanded by Madam Attionu.
The lawyer then asked him about his claim that it was Ms. Attionu who was in the vehicle when he had never met her.
“That is correct but I knew her because she was a public figure. Sometimes when watching TV you will see MASLOC having donated or presented items to certain groups of people and you will see Madam Sedina representing MASLOC,” Mr. Quansah replied.
Ms. Attionu and Daniel Axim, a former Operations Manager of MASLOC, are facing 78 counts of charges including conspiracy to steal, stealing, unauthorized commitment, resulting in a financial obligation for the government; improper payment, money laundering and contravention of the Public Procurement Act.
The two accused persons allegedly stole a total amount of GH¢3,198,280 whilst at MASLOC and willfully caused a GH¢1,973,780 financial loss to the state.
Again, Ms. Attionu and her accomplice while in charge of MASLOC allegedly made unauthorized commitments, resulting in financial obligations for the government to the tune of GH¢61,735,832.50.
The charges against the two also include a GH¢22,158,118.85 loss to public property and improper payment of GH¢273,743.66, as well as money laundering of GH¢3,704,380 whilst in charge.
Hearing continues on January 8, 2020.