BNI probes missing GHC32 million at Venture Capital
Details are emerging that the Venture Capital Trust Fund (VCTF) has virtually been depleted due to alleged corrupt practices by officials at the fund.
It is turning out that the Development Assistance Fund (DAF) and the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) created under the VCTF to give funding access to Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) were allegedly used as an avenue to steal state funds.
Currently, only about 7% of a whopping GH¢18.26 million invested by the government between 2010 and 2015 has been recovered and GH¢32 million was outstanding.
About 205 SMEs are said to have benefitted from the DAF and SPV schemes of the VTCF and some existing and former employees, particularly the immediate-past Chief Executive Officer Daniel Kofi Duku, have been cited for “directly or indirectly” engaging in “fraudulent activities” during the disbursement of the DAF and SPV loans.
Loans were purportedly awarded to phony companies which could not be traced, making recovery very difficult.
Mr Kofi Duku, who was appointed by the late President Atta Mills in June 2010, was removed by John Mahama and replaced with the current Chief Executive, Osman Sulemana, who just referred the matter to the BNI.
An internal investigative report cited by DAILY GUIDE traced the alleged fraudulent activities of the former CEO and his cronies and as a result, Mr Osman Sulemana, on the instructions of the Board of Trustees, has invited the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) to thoroughly look into the matter.
Apart from Mr. Duku who reportedly took a monthly salary of $15,000 (GHC63,000), other top managers who are to be investigated include, Kofi Sarpong, who is a former senior investment officer; Irene Anti Mensah, a special assistant to the Ex-CEO; Emmanuel Akuamoah, a Deputy General Manager – Kumasi Office; Charles Okyere, who is a client and friend to the Ex-CEO; Lassey Agbenyefia, a former Trustee; George Aidoo, a driver of the Ex-CEO and Charity Opoku, former Accountant and now an Investment Officer.
The VCTF, which is the creation of Act 680 of 2004, is finding it difficult to retrieve the funds because the clients – mostly cronies and family of the Ex-CEO and other top management members – reportedly used fake documents in securing the loans.
According to the internal report endorsed by the Board of Trustees, the perpetrators had used fake application letters, fake signatures, fake business registration certificates; and the loans were authorized with due diligence while the issue of concessions to spouses and relatives of loan processing officers, non existing telephone contacts, company locations, denial of guarantors of signing loan documents among others, have come up strongly.
The ex-CEO reportedly granted a loan facility of GHC580,000 to his driver (George Aidoo), who is said to have created four companies and another GHC130,000 to the husband of the ex-CEOs personal assistant, Irene Mensah.
The driver’s companies – Aidoo Commodities (was granted GHC250,000 in May 2013), Techgro Investment (GHC150,000 in 2014), Asaman Commodities (GHC30,000 in July 2015) and another GHC150,000 for Techgro Investment.
According to the report, there was no processing officer in the loan granted Irene Mensah’s husband and VCTF has not been able to trace the company that received the funds because there is no file for that transaction.
The ex-CEO also allegedly granted GH¢900,000 to one of his friends called Charles Okyere, who was a signatory to four beneficiary companies like Farm Yard Ghana Limited (GHC120,000 in August 2012), Fonelink Company Limited (GHC30,000 in July 2012 with top-ups), Pee Wee Farms (a total of GHC30,000 between October and December, 2012) as well as Moonshine Company, which was given GHC120,000.
According to the report, $614,000 was paid into the personal account of one Reverend Blankson, a trustee of Bethany Church, for acquisition of 0.55acre land at Ridge, Accra, but the trust had not obtained any title to the land nor had the money been refunded.
The report said at one point, Mr. Duku was asked by the board to refund $26,252 following what was concluded to be an unlawful trip the CEO had embarked upon, but $18,000 was outstanding.
When he was pressed further for the refund, he allegedly issued two postdated cheques, which were all dishonoured.
According to the report, in 2015 alone, a total of GH¢825,000 was disbursed, disregarding the board’s directive to halt disbursement.
The VCTF, in its bid to recover the outstanding loans, engaged the services of Oxford and Beaumont, Sterling Partnership and Bethel Law to assist in the recovery programme; and in June 2015, Bullion Financial Advisors Limited (BFAL) was brought on board when a total of 116 companies were transferred to them.
According to the report, BFAL was able to restructure 52 loans and that had resulted in recouping GHC612,540.79.