The trial investigator in the ongoing case against the former COCOBOD boss and two others has revealed in court that there is “evidence” that the controversial GH¢25,000 deposited into Dr Stephen Opuni’s account by Seidu Agongo was Dr Opuni’s own money.
Chief Inspector Thomas Prempeh Mercer made the above disclosure in court on Monday, March 15, 2021, when being cross-examined by counsel for the 2nd and 3rd Accused, Nutifafa Nutsukpui, who is holding brief for Benson Nutsukpui.
The lawyer had contested any wrongdoing on the part of his client, Seidu Agongo, when he deposited the said amount in the first Accused’s bank account in October 2014.
At least in two of Seidu Agongo’s statements to the police CID, he said he does not remember the circumstances surrounding the payment. In his first statement to the CID on 29th March 2017, Mr Agongo said he, “did not remember the exact purpose”.
After the police had interrogated Dr Opuni on the GH¢25,000, the CID asked Agongo to write another statement on 9th January 2018, which he said he “did not sincerely remember the purpose of the GH¢25,000 deposit”.
Nutifafa Nutsukpui, therefore, went on to state that the prosecution has so far failed to prove in court the purpose for which that amount was deposited into Dr Opuni’s account.
But Chief Insp. Prempeh Mercer disagreed on that score, asserting that he himself has adduced evidence to that effect in court.
The trial investigator, who is the seventh prosecution witness and works with the Financial Forensics Unit (FFU) of the CID, used the statement of Dr Opuni in which he wrote that the said money was his personal money as proof.
“Sir, I put it to you that there is no portion of Exhibit MM3 where the 2nd Accused person talks about giving money to the 1st Accused person to take care of needy children,” the second Accused’s counsel pointed out.
Chief Insp. Prempeh Mercer replied, “My Lord that is not so. My Lord A2 stated in Exhibit MM3 that he did not remember giving any money to A1 but indeed he did pay the money to A1 and there is evidence to prove in A1’s Ecobank account.”
The lawyer insisted, “Now Sir, there is no evidence in this court in respect of the purpose of that deposit, that is correct.”
This is what the trial investigator said in response to the position of Agongo’s counsel:
“No, My Lord there is evidence in this court. My Lord, the evidence in this court points to the fact that A1 in his written statement, written by himself, wrote to the effect that he gave the money to A2 to be paid into his account.”
Read excerpts of the cross-examination below
Now Sir, who interrogated the 2nd Accused person in respect of GH¢25,000 deposit found in the account of the 1st Accused person during your investigation
A: My Lord the team that investigated this case.
Q: You told the court that when both 1st and 2nd Accused persons were interrogated separately they gave conflicting statements.
A: Yes. My Lord.
Q: Please show him Exhibit MM. that is one of the statements given by the 2nd Accused person dated 29th March 2017, that is correct.
A: Yes, My Lord.
Q: Now in the statements that you have taken or reviewed, this Exhibit MM was the first time that the 2nd Accused person wrote any statement concerning the GHC25,000 deposit. That is correct.
A: Yes, My Lord.
Q: Now in Exhibit MM he was specific that he did not remember the exact purpose for that deposit. That is correct.
A: Yes, My Lord.
Q: Please show him Exhibit MM3. Sir Exhibit MM3 is dated 19th January 2018 is that correct, Sir.
A: Yes, My Lord.
Q: In this statement also the 2nd Accused was emphatic that he did not sincerely remember the purpose of the GH¢25,000 deposit, is that correct.
A: My Lord that is not so. What A2 said was that he doesn’t actually recall the purpose for which he gave him the money but he remembers giving him the money to cater to the needy.
Q: Sir, kindly go to the 2nd page of Exhibit MM3 and read from the 4th line on page 2.
A: Witness reads out.
Q: Now Sir, there is nowhere in this Exhibit MM3 where the 2nd Accused talks about giving money to the 1st Accused person to look after the needy.
A: My Lord that is not correct because counsel started with Exhibit MM and quoted portion where A2 has stated that he did not remember giving any money or paying money into A1’s account and went further to state that he recalls paying that money to cater for needy children.
Q: Sir, I put it to you that there is no portion of Exhibit MM3 where 2” Accused person talks about giving money to the 1st Accused person to take care of needy children.
A: My Lord that is not so. My Lord A2 stated in Exhibit MM3 that he did not remember giving any money to Al but indeed he did pay the money to Al and there is evidence to prove in A1’s Ecobank account.
Q: Now Sir, there is no evidence in this court in respect to the purpose of that deposit, that is correct.
A: No, My Lord there is evidence in this court. My Lord, the evidence in this court points to the fact that Al in his written statement written by himself wrote to the effect that he gave the money to A2 to be paid into his account.
Q: Sir, I am putting it to you that the presence of a 3rd party’s name in your bank account against a deposit is no proof of crime.
A: My Lord, unfortunately under the circumstance of this case it is not the 3rd party’s money. Al and A2 have given statements on the money and that is the evidence I have produced in this court.
The case has been adjourned to March 22, 2021, for cross-examination by the 2nd and 3rd Accused to continue.
Dr Stephen Opuni and businessman Mr Seidu Agongo are facing 27 charges including willfully causing financial loss to the State and contravention of the Public Procurement Act.
They have both pleaded not guilty to the charges and are on a GHS 300,000 self-recognisance bail each.
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