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General News Fri, 3 May 2019

Venture Capital former boss, 5 others charged for causing financial loss granted GH¢170 million bail

The accused persons in the Venture Capital Trust Fund case who are standing trial for causing financial loss of GH¢42.8 million to the state have been granted bail totaling GH¢170 million.

Each has been admitted to GH¢50 million bail with two to three sureties each to be justified.

Additionally, the accused persons are to deposit their passport with the court registrar.

The Prosecution is to furnish the accused persons with all documents including those they will not rely on for the trial.

The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Ms Gloria Afua Akuffo led the prosecution Friday morning.

She earlier informed the court of the conduct of the first accused person, Daniel Duku, who she said flouted his bail conditions during investigations thereby leading to a delay in the start of the case.

She accordingly prayed the court to take that into account before granting bail.

Accused Persons

Duku, who is also a former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Venture Capital Trust Fund (VCTF), has been charged together with five others for causing financial loss of GH¢42.8 million to the state.

The rest are Richard Lassey Agbenyefia, a former Member of Parliament and a former member of the Board of Trustees of VCTF (the Board); Irene Anti-Mensah, who doubled as the Executive Assistant to Duku, was also an Investment Officer of VCTF; Kofi Sarpong, was an investment officer of VCTF; Frank Aboagye Mensah, a businessman and the husband Irene and Charity Opoku also known as Charity Ameyaw, was an accountant at VCTF.

They have been variously charged with 86 counts of willfully causing financial loss to the state, abetment of crime, stealing, defrauding by false pretences and issuing of false cheques.

Read also: Former Venture Capital boss and 5 others charged for causing GH¢42.8 million financial loss

Bail Conditions

Duku has been admitted to bail in the sum of GH¢50 million with three sureties; Agbenyefia, GH¢30 million, three sureties; Irene and Mensah, GH¢20 million with two sureties; Sarpong, GH¢40 million with three sureties and Charity, GH¢30 million with three sureties.

The court, presided over by Mr Justice Anthony Oppong, admitted the accused persons to bail after their lawyers had made a request to that effect.

He directed that the sureties must be justified.

Facts

According to the facts of the case, Duku facilitated the recruitment of Irene and Sarpong, who were his work colleagues at the Ghana Investment Promotion Authority (GIPA).

Upon assumption of office, Duku introduced a loan scheme named Development Assistance Fund (DAF) to provide credit directly to individuals and companies in clear contravention of the VCTF Act and contrary to the objects of VCTF.

Despite the advice of solicitors of VCTF on the illegality of the proposed loan scheme, the Duku allegedly managed to obtain the approval of the Board for the establishment of the DAF scheme.

According to the prosecution, Duku, by approval of the board, could only approve loans not exceeding GH¢30,000 and explained that any loan amount above GH¢30,000 was subject to board approval.

“The Board also approved strict guidelines under which the loans were to be disbursed. An amount of GH?1,000,000, which was later increased to GH?2,000,000 was approved by the Board as a revolving fund for the DAF project,” the facts noted.

More Revelations

Investigations have revealed that the Duku disbursed various sums of money under the scheme the total of which far exceeded the approved amount of GH?2 million.

The prosecution said prior to the appointment of Duku as CEO and the establishment of DAF, VCTF operated an existing scheme which gave loans to farmers in the Northern and Brong Ahafo Regions for the cultivation of sorghum.

The loan scheme known as the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) gave loans to certain Venture Capital Finance Companies (VCFC) namely SINAPI ABA and Techno Serve Company Limited for onward lending to farmers. The SPV had a minimum of GH?50,000 and GH?500,000 as the maximum amount that could be disbursed at a time to the Venture Capital Finance Companies.

It further disclosed that the programme ran successfully until Duku assumed leadership in June 2010 when the project stopped.

However, in or about October 2010, the SPV was reintroduced at the instance of Duku and under the new arrangement, the SPV was to be controlled by Duku.

The prosecution said, although Duku had a threshold of approving loans up to GH?50,000, he “persistently approved loans purportedly under DAF and SPV well above his threshold directly to a number of companies some of which were non-existent.”

“Some of these fictitious companies bore addresses, which belonged to the 1st accused,” the prosecution noted and further stated that the accused persons used the names of a number of companies belonging to other persons to obtain loans without the knowledge, permission and or consent of the owners of the companies.

More offences

The facts further stated that Charity, the accountant at VCTF and a signatory to the VCTF account, aided the Duku by signing blank cheques to grant loans to some of these companies while on leave.

It said some of the cheques were issued even before the purported applications for the loans were received.

Duku, it has been alleged used blank cheques signed by Charity and granted loans totalling GH¢4,240,000, which resulted in a total loss of GH¢12,601,796.25 being principal and accrued interest to the Fund.

Financial Challenges

The prosecution said the board, upon realising the financial challenges facing the Fund in its sustainability, instructed the Duku in 2013 to stop the disbursement of loans under the DAF scheme and to rather concentrate on recoveries.

Duku, according to the prosecution misled the board by reporting that he had recovered 81% of the outstanding loans under DAF when he knew that to be false and consequently obtained the board’s approval to resume disbursements under the DAF scheme.

The prosecution said the board relied on the false report of Duku and increased the DAF Fund from GH¢1,500,000 to GH¢2,000,000.

Again, in January 2015, the Board instructed Duku to completely stop the disbursement of loans and focus on the recovery of loans already disbursed but he allegedly ignored the instructions.

Termination

According to the prosecution, although, Duku’s appointment was terminated in

In June 2015, although the appointment of the Duku had been terminated, he remained in office until September 2015 during which period he disbursed some more loans to companies some of which belonged to his official driver and some cronies.

During the period, Duku allegedly obtained an amount of $26,063 to attend an official programme in the United States of America (USA).

The facts said, although, Duku did not attend the programme, he allegedly failed to pay the money to chest and dishonestly appropriated the entire amount.

“The board on realising that the 1st accused did not attend the programme, directed him to refund the $26,063 to VCTF in response to which directive the 1st accused issued false cheques to VCTF, which were dishonoured upon presentation at the bank,” the facts disclosed. Duku is the first accused person.

Other accused persons

The prosecution further noted that Richard obtained loans in the names of companies based on false representations to VCTF without the knowledge, permission or approval of the owners of the companies whereas in other instances the loans were obtained in the names of non-existent companies.

It said Irene and Sarpong, who were responsible for evaluation and processing of loan applications to VCTF, failed to conduct the requisite due diligence on loan applicants but rather facilitated the grant of loans through falsified records by entering false information on the loan application forms.

It said Frank used non-existent companies to obtain loans from VCTF and acted together with Duku, Irene and Sarpong to dishonestly appropriate various sums of money from VCTF in the names of these companies.

“Evidence will show that these and other acts of the accused persons have resulted in the loss of over GH¢42,856,470.21 to the Republic,” the facts stated.

Source: Graphic.com.gh
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