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Kpebu highlights challenge Ghana is likely to face in attempt to extradite jailed EX-CEO of MASLOC Sedina Tamakloe

Private legal practitioner Martin Kpebu has said that the condition of prisons in Ghana can be a challenge in an attempt to get the absconded former Chief Executive Officer of the Micro Finance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC), Sedina Tamakloe handed over to Ghana by the country she is currently living in, to come home and serve the 10-year jail term handed her by the court.

Kpebu indicated that, in the past, the conditions of Ghana’s prisons were used by some countries to refuse to extradite persons to Ghana.

Speaking on the jailing of Sedina Tamakloe who was tried in absentia, on the Ghana Tonight show on TV3 on Tuesday, April 16 Kpebu said “I understand the judge has made that order which is that she would be found, and the government is going to attempt to get her extradited back to Ghana from wherever she is, our laws allow for extradition and extradition is backed by international law, there are certain conditions including that, you are not bringing her to torture her. Obviously, in Ghana, we don’t even carry out the death penalty and even now the law has been amended. So those grounds on which another country can refuse to extradite here have been narrowed.

“The main change we may face is prison conditions. INTERPOL will do their bit so that they will spread it all over the world, all the police agencies of all the countries in the world asking for her to be extradited to Ghana. But one of the key things we will be facing is the prison conditions in Ghana because I am aware in the past certain countries have refused to extradite persons to Ghana because of our very inhuman prison conditions, so that is the biggest challenge we will have when it comes to extradition but a lot of countries do extradite persons back to Ghana.”

Apart from Sedina Tamamkloe, the Director of Operations at MASLOC Daniel Axim was also given a 5-year jail term.

They were incarcerated by the Financial and Economic Court 2 of the Accra High Court for causing financial loss to the state.

They had both pleaded not guilty to a combined 78 charges which including conspiracy to steal, stealing, causing financial loss to the State, causing loss to public property, Improper Payment of Public Funds, Unauthorised Commitment resulting in Financial Obligation for the Government, Money Laundering and Contravention of the Public Procurement Act.

In her judgement on Tuesday, April 16, the presiding judge, Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe decried the incidents of the state paying more attention to violent related crimes while offences committed by professionals were much more harmful.

Below is a summary of the judgement:

On the charges of Stealing against A1 and charge of conspiracy to steal against A1 and A2, A1 is sentenced to 10 IHL A2 is sentenced to 5 years IHL.

Charge of wilfully causing financial loss to the state against A1 and conspiracy to wilfully cause financial loss to the state against A1 and A1, A1 sentenced to 3 years and fine of 3,000 in default two years. 12 months and 1000 penalty units default 12 months.

Cause loss to public property A1 is sentenced to 2 years IHL and a fine of 500 penalty units or in default 22 months.

Improper payment. 6 moths on both counts.

Unauthorised commitment… 6 months

Money laundering against A1 and A2. A1 3 years and 2000 penalty in default another 2 years. . A2 2 years and 500 penalty units in default 12 months

The prosecution is directed to undertake forfeiture proceedings against A1 in particular.

Background

Per the brief fact, in 2017, the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) conducted investigations into certain fraudulent disbursement of MASLOC funds involving the 1st and 2nd accused persons.

The investigations, according to the State, revealed that in June 2014, MASLOC invested a sum of GH¢150,000 in Obaatanpa Micro-Finance Company Limited (Obaatanpa), a licenced Tier II microfinance company located at Ejura in the Ashanti Region.

Thereafter, the 1st accused person (Sedina Tamakloe) offered Obaatanpa a further investment sum of GH¢500,000.

As a result, a MASLOC Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) cheque dated 24th July, 2014, in the sum of GH¢500,000 was drawn in favour of Obaatanpa. Soon after Obaatanpa received the MASLOC cheque, the 1st accused person informed the Board Chairman of Obaatanpa that the investment amount of GH¢500,000 would attract 24% interest.

Obaatanpa decided to return the amount to MASLOC since the interest rate being demanded by the accused person was too high and unprofitable for its business and issued a cheque in refund of the loan amount.

The facts further state that upon presentation of the cheque, the 1st accused person declined to accept the cheque and made a demand for a cash refund.

A cash amount of GH¢500,000 was delivered to the 1st accused person by the Board Chairman of Obaatanpa on the night of 28th August, 2014, at the Baatsona Total Filling Station located on the Spintex Road in Accra.

By a letter dated 28th August, 2014, the 1st accused person acknowledged receipt of the refund sum.

In 2015, per letters, some of which were under the hand of the accused person, MASLOC made demands on Obaatanpa for the payment of interest on the principal investment sum of GH¢500,000.

In response to the demands, Obaatanpa wrote a reminder to MASLOC concerning the payment of the loan amount and drew the 1st accused person’s attention to the unjustified demands whereupon the demands stopped.

In 2017, upon the assumption of office of a new Chief Executive of MASLOC, a demand notice was again sent to Obaatanpa for the payment of accrued interest on the same investment sum of GH¢500,000 whereupon Obaatanpa once again informed MASLOC that the said money had already been refunded since 2014.

Investigations subsequently showed that MASLOC had no record of the amount having been paid to it and that the 1st accused person had appropriated the amount of GH¢500,000.

Investigations further revealed that in April 2016, the 1st accused person obtained approval of the MASLOC Board to utilize the sum of GH¢1,706,000 of MASLOC funds for a country wide sensitisation and monitoring programme for 85,300 beneficiaries of MASLOC loans.

Each of the targeted 85,300 beneficiaries was to receive Twenty Ghana Cedis (GH¢20) to cover transportation and refreshment.

Between April and December 2016, upon the authority of the 1st accused person a total sum of GH¢1,816,000 withdrawn in tranches, was received by the 1st and 2nd accused persons even though approval had been given by the MASLOC Board for a sum of GH¢1,706,000.

Again, investigations revealed that out of the sum of GH¢1,816,000 only GH¢1,300 was spent on refreshment for some beneficiaries in the Volta, Greater-Accra and Brong-Ahafo Regions only and that no programme whatsoever took place in the other seven regions.

The State in her brief facts further noted that investigations further revealed that prior to the Board’s approval, the first accused person also appropriated GHC246,280 meant for training, sensitization and financial literacy.

The investigations, the State says, disclosed that in 2013, following a fire disaster at the Kantamanto Market, the then President John Mahama directed MASLOC to provide an assistance of GH¢1,465,035 to victims of the fire disaster.

The money was however to be disbursed through Dwadifo Adamfo Savings and Loans Company Limited (Dwadifo Adamfo).

The State enquiries, it says, showed that the 1st accused person appropriated GH¢579,800 out of the sum of GH¢1,465,035.

In August 2016, the 1st accused person on behalf of MASLOC wrote to the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) for approval to procure vehicles from Mac Autos and Spare Parts Ltd (Mac Autos) for the GPRTU using the single source method under the Public Procurement Act.

In October 2016, the PPA wrote back to MASLOC requesting MASLOC to furnish it with financial arrangement approved by the Ministry of Finance.

On 5th December, 2016, the then Minister of Finance wrote to the PPA to confirm financial arrangements which were being put in place for the purchase of vehicles.

Without any approval from PPA, the 1st accused person signed a contract with Mac Autos on 6th December, 2016, to supply MASLOC with 350 vehicles comprising of 150 Chevy Aveo Saloon, 100 Chevy Sparklite and 33-seater Isuzu buses. MASLOC applied for a tax waiver on all the vehicles.

The unit price offered by Mac Autos to MASLOC for the Chevy Aveo was GH¢74,495 ($18,883.39).

However, investigations revealed that the actual retail price Mac offered for the same model within the same year without duty was GH¢47,346.93 ($12,009.91).

The unit price offered for the Chevy Sparklite was GHC 65,095.00 ($16,500.63) when the actual price offered by Mac Autos within that same period without duty was GH¢35,918.37 ($9,104.77).

For the Isuzu 33-seater buses the unit price offered to MASLOC was GH¢445,560 ($112,942.96) but the actual retail price without duty was GH¢293,877.55 ($74,493.67).

Again, in November 2016, MASLOC procured 200 pieces of Samsung B310 mobile dual sim phones under a project called PINCO Project Market Survey.

Investigations revealed that although the actual open market price of the phones was GH¢24,400, the 1st accused person purchased them at the inflated price of GH¢93,412.

Additional checks also revealed that, in January 2017, the 1st accused person, without the requisite approval and authorisation, caused to be paid to herself and her deputy, one Mustapha Abubakar Batalima, the sums of GH¢135,592.33 and GH¢82,218.76 respectively as ex-gratia.

Furthermore, in the same month, the 1st accused person caused to be paid to herself and her deputy cash payments in the sums of GH¢28,445.94 and GH¢27,486.62 respectively, purportedly in lieu of leave, in contravention of the law.

3news

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