Details are emerging about how the Attorney General’s (AG’s) Department was able to conclude a settlement of a whopping GH¢15 million to be paid by the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Venture Capital Trust Fund (VCTF), Daniel Duku, under the erstwhile Mahama-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration.
The proposal to refund the stolen state funds was initiated under Section 35 of the Courts Act, 1993 (Act 459) by lawyer Addo Atuah of Addo Atuah & Co, who is representing the former CEO of VCTF in court.
Last Friday at an Accra High Court, the prosecution, led by Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Mrs Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa, announced to the court, presided over by Justice Anthony Oppong, a Court of Appeal judge sitting as an additional High Court judge, that three of the accused persons, including Duku, had agreed to pay back the state funds they allgedly misappropriated.
There are six people, including a former National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for Keta, Richard Lassey Agbenyefia, and Mr Duku standing trial for allegedly misappropriating funds in excess of GH¢42 million belonging to VCTF, a state agency.
The other four are Irene Anti Mensah, an Investment Officer of VCTF, who doubled as executive assistant to Mr Duku; Frank Aboagye Mensah, businessman; Kofi Sarpong, former Investment Officer of VCTF; and Charity Opoku, aka Charity Ameyaw, an accountant at VCTF.
Purpose of VCTF
The VCTF was established by Venture Capital Trust Fund Act, 2004, (Act 680), to provide financing to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), and the objective was to promote and support the private sector as an equal partner in achieving the country’s developmental goals by easing access to long-term funding to SMEs.
However, when the NDC assumed office, sources say it was allegedly turned into an avenue for looting of state funds and the purpose for the fund somewhat disregarded.
Jointly & severally
According to DAILY GUIDE sources, all the accused persons were jointly and severally charged with the misappropriation of GH¢43 million but after a back and forth negotiations with the AG’s Department, Mr Duku admitted to GH¢15 million liability and offered to pay back within three months.
Sources say Mr Duku’s liability initially stood at some GH¢20.1 million but after a thorough audit with the eagle-eyed AG’s representatives, it was established at GH¢15 million.
As it is, Mr Duku, together with two out of the six accused persons (Ms. Mensah and Mr Mensah) has reached an agreement with the AG’s Department to refund the monies in order to be spared jail time.
However, it is unclear how much both Ms. Mensah and Mr Mensah are expected to pay back to the state as the details are yet to be released to the court.
EOCO has reportedly already frozen about one million cedis in an account belonging to Mr Duku, but it is unclear if it will be part of the negotiated settlement.
DAILY GUIDE learnt that Mr Duku had property in Accra and Kumasi and sources said they could be key in offsetting those properties to pay back the cash stolen from state coffers.
Already, the prosecution has filed witness statements in respect of the remaining three accused persons, including the former NDC MP, Mr Agbenyefia.
The accused persons are facing a total of 86 charges, and they all pleaded not guilty when they made their maiden appearance before the court.
They were granted bail in the total sum of GH¢170 million by the court.
Per the fact sheet read by the AG, the accused persons allegedly used the names of a number of companies belonging to other persons to obtain loans without the knowledge, permission and consent of the owners.
“The former NDC MP, in some instances, 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,” the AG said in court on their maiden appearance.
“Investigations have revealed that Mr Duku disbursed various sums of money under the scheme, the total of which far exceeded the approved amount of GH¢2,000,000.”
The AG also stated that prior to the assumption of office of Mr Duku, there was an existing scheme known as the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), which offered loans to farmers in the Northern and Brong Ahafo regions for the cultivation of sorghum.
According to the AG, Mr Duku continued to stay in office although his appointment was terminated in June 2015 and disbursed more loans to companies which belonged to his official driver and some cronies.
He has been accused of issuing a dud cheque for the refund of US$26,063 he took from VCTF to attend an official programme in the United States, which he failed to attend.
“Irene Anti-Mensah and Kofi 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.”
Mr Mensah has also been accused of using non-existent companies to obtain loans from VCTF.
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