Crime & Punishment Thu, 1 Aug 2013

Judge, registrar jailed

A High Court Judge and a Court Registrar have been jailed by an Accra High Court for stealing.

Justice Edward Mensah Boateng, who until his conviction, was a judge at the Sefwi Wiawso High Court in the Western Region, will serve nine months, while his accomplice, Jacob Dickson Owusu, Registrar of the Danu High Court in the Volta Region, will serve 12 months.

The two men are said to have converted US$50,754.9 paid to the Danu High Court as ordered by Justice Boateng the trial judge, into cedis and invested it in a fixed deposit account at the Danu Agricultural Development Bank, sharing the interest on the principle sum, any time it (interest) accrued.

It meant the convicts dishonestly appropriated sums accruing on the investment on a fixed deposit account illegally lodge at the Danu branch of the ADB.

The money was meant for compensation for the parties in litigation.

They were charged with conspiracy to commit fraudulent breach of trust, fraudulent breach of trust, and conspiracy to steal and stealing, contravening sections 23(1) and 128, 128, 12(1) and 124 as well as 124 of the Criminal Offences Act 1960, Act 29.

The interest on the principal sum was to be held in trust for the litigants but not to be squandered by the convicts.

Passing sentence, Mr. Justice Charles Quist said “in the main, I find that the prosecution at the end of the case proved all the ingredients of the offences against the first and second accused persons and are convicted on all the charges leveled against them.”

However, the third accused, Justice Michael Kwasi Woanyah, also a high Court Judge who was charged with complicity, was acquitted and discharged.

The Principal State Attorney, Mr. Asiama-Sampong, prosecuting said that the Government of Ghana awarded a contract to Great Lakes Dredge and Duck Company Limited in 2001 to construct the Keta Sea Defence at Keta and its environs.

He said the company acquired land from the inhabitants of Keta and established a stone quarry from which chippings and other construction materials were produced for the project.

He said when Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company Limited completed its work; a dispute arose between two families as to compensation for the use of their land for the project.

The prosecutor told the court that the matter was taken to the High Court at Danu in a case title ‘Togbui Yao Awlime and Another Versus Mama Agbowugbe and two others.’

He said that the company paid an amount of US$50,754.9 as compensation to other parties in litigation, which was in turn paid into the account of the Bank on the orders of Justice Boateng, the presiding judge of the Danu High Court.

Mr. Asiama Sampong said the convicts opened an account at the Danu branch of the ADB into which the US$50,754.9 was lodged in the name of the Registrar, Jacob Dickson Owusu.

He explained that the money was subsequently converted into cedis and on October 16, 2007, the account holder (Jacob Dickson Owusu) withdrew an amount of GHc35,000 from the account and invested it into a fixed deposit account at the same bank (ADB).

He said that Justice Boateng was transferred from Danu to the Sefwi Wiawso High Court in the Western Region and replaced by Mr. Justice Benuyena Benson who ordered Jacob Dickson Owusu to render a statement of account on the money he had lodged with the bank at Danu, but he (Dickson Owusu) did not comply with the order.

The Judicial Service sent Mr. Prosper Adeti, Director of Finance at the Head Office, Accra, to Danu to audit the operations of the US$50,754.9 lodged with the bank by the Registrar.

Source: The Ghanaian Times