Kwabena Duffour, eight others granted GH60 million cedis bail each

Accra Dr Kwabena Duffour, Former Minister of Finance and Former Governor Bank of Ghana and eight others, on Wednesday appeared before an Accra High Court for their alleged involvement in the collapsed of Unibank limited.

Dr Kwabena Duffour, Hoda Holdings Limited, Johnson Pandit Asiama, Kwabena Duffour II, Below Nyarko Dadzie-Dennis, Elsie Dansoa Kyereh, Jeffery Amon, Benjamin Ofori, and Kwadwo Opoku Okoh were granted bail each in the sum of a Gh60,000,000.00, with three sureties each, two of whom must be justified for each accused.

The sureties also to make their title deeds available to the Court’s Registry and deposit their passports as well within 48 hours.

The accused have been accused of misappropriating some Gh5.7 billion leading to the fall of Unibank in 2017.

They are facing 68 charges including, fraudulent breach of trust, money laundering, dishonesty receiving and falsification of accounts, and conspiracy to commit crime.

Lawyers for the accused persons applying for bail for their clients, told the court, investigations into the case had been ongoing over the past few years and during these periods, their clients had cooperated with investigators.

According to the lawyers their clients were not flight risk neither would they interfere with further investigations.

The state was represented by Ms Gloria Akuffo, Minister of Justice and Attorney-General (A-G).

The court presided over by Justice Samuel Asiedu, a Justice of the Court of Appeal with additional responsibility as a High Court judge granted each of the accused bail and adjourned the matter to February 24.

The facts of the case as presented by Ms Akuffo were that Kwabena Duffour is a Shareholder of uniBank Ghana Limited and the ultimate beneficial owner of HODA holdings Company Limited, HODA is a holding company and the majority shareholder of uniBank, Johnson was the Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana between April 2016 and January 2018.

She said Kwabena former Chief Operating Officer (COO) of uniBank subsequently became the Chief Executive Officer of the bank between June 2017 And March 2018, Ekow was also the COO of the bank and a member of the board of directors of WAICA Reinsurance Corporation Plc (WAICA-Re) Sierra Leone.

Elsie was an Executive Head of Corporate Banking at uniBank, while Jeffery was a Senior Relationship Manager of Corporate Banking at uniBank, Benjamin, the Executive Head of Credit Risk at uniBank, and Kwadwo was a Financial Control Manager of uniBank and Head of Finance of HODA.

The prosecution said uniBank went into liquidation on March 20, 2018 and was placed in receivership on August, 1 2018. KPMG, the official Administrator, and in the course of its duties discovered that about GH5.7 billion had become due from shareholders of uniBank as of March 20, 2018.

The Prosecution said no security nor credit arrangements were made for the payment of these amounts which remains unpaid.

She told the court that the debt of GH5.7 billion was made up of two components, namely, a Deferred Expenditure Account (DEA) together with other balances of about GH3.7 billion and secondly, Loans and Advances made up of about GHc 2 billion.

The Prosecution said the DEA was a general ledger account created and operated for the benefit of shareholders of uniBank. The GH3.7 bullion was also made up of a number of transactions of which about GH2.4 billion constituted direct pay-outs for the benefit of shareholders.

Out of the amount of GH2.4 billion, Kwabena II (son of Mr Duffuor) and Ekow acting in concert dishonestly appropriated funds out of customers’ deposits and borrowings from BOG for the benefit of shareholders through a variety of means including the use of petty cash vouchers and cash pay-in slips amounting to about GH613 million, various payments were dishonestly made to the accounts of related parties of uniBank including HODA, HODA Properties. Numa Logistics, Integrated Properties. Topp Recruitment and Bolton Portfolio without recourse to due process, contrary to proper banking practice. Corresponding entries were also dishonestly posted to the DEA.

Ms Akoffo said Kwabena 11 and HODA between January 2014 and February 2018 dishonestly received over GHc 663,283,917.19 through subsidiaries of HODA out of customers’ deposits with uniBank these were dishonestly transferred and recorded in the DEA.

She said it was also discovered that in April 2016, an amount of GHc 35million was dishonestly paid from uniBank funds to Ghana Oil Company Limited (GOIL) for the purchase of shares in GOIL for the benefit of Starmount Development Company Limited (Starmount), a related party. The amount of GHc 35 million was also posted to the DEA at the instance of the Kwabena II and Ekow.

Between November 2015 and September 2017, at the instance of Kwabena II and Ekow, various dishonest payments amounting to GH74 million were made by uniBank to fund a commercial printing and label manufacturing company, uniPrecision Printing and Packaging Company hunted (uniPrecision), also a subsidiary of HODA. These payments were charged to the DEA. UniBank failed to recover these funds from uniPrecision.

According to the prosecution, between December 2015 and June 2016, uniBnnk applied for various liquidity support of GHc 200. Million, GH350 million and GH450 million from BoG out of which only GHc 150 million was paid leaving an overdue amount of GH850 million excluding interest. She said whilst still in default in the repayment of the BoG liquidity support of GH850 million, uniBank borrowed several amounts through overnight interbank borrowings.

In September, 2016, Johnson, even though aware that uniBank was in a poor liquidity state and still in default of repayments due BoG, contrived a scheme whereby the Johnson gave approval for the disbursement of GH300 million unsecured facility to Universal Merchant Bank Limited (UMB) for the benefit of uniBank without following prescribed mandatory statutory conditions. GHc 150 million of the facility remains unpaid.

Ms Akuffo told the court that in December 2016, uniBank borrowed GHc400 million from BoG as overnight borrowing in addition to other borrowings from the interbank market despite its weak liquidity position, uniBank, at the instance of Kwabena II and Ekow dishonestly transferred a total of about GH325 million through UMB as payment for 51% adb shares, in the names of Belstar Capital Limited (Belstar), Starmount, SIC Financial Services Limited (SlC-PSL), EDC Investments Limited (EDC), Oscar Yao Doe and Mark Blewunyo Colic.

The balance of the outstanding GHc 850 million liquidity support from BoG was still due at the time uniBank transferred the amount of GH325 million funds to purchase the adb shares which compelled BoG to nullify the purchase of the shares.

She said the second component of GH2 billion due to uniBank by shareholders included 31 fictitious loans amounting to over G blllion created at the instance of Kwabena II, Ekow, Elsie, Jeffery and Benjamin. The prosecution said investigations disclosed that none of the customers in whose names the fictitious loans were created applied for, received it nor were granted any loan facility by the bank.

She said as a result of the dishonest conduct of the Kwabena II, Ekow, Elsie, Jeffery and Benjamin, the outstanding balance due to the bank on the DEA was dishonestly excluded from uniBank’s assets in its prudential returns to BoG and its annual financial statements thereby misreporting its true state of affairs to the regulatory authorities and users of its financial statements.

Ms Akuffo said Kwabena II on June 6, 20 I6 dishonestly authorised the establishment of a Letter of Credit (LC) by uniBank in the sum of $12.5 million for the benefit of uniPrecision for the purchase or equipment. Investigations revealed that no equipment wag purchased. She said payments in respect of the LC were made by uniBank to Ecobank, Paris and the total amount paid in that transaction was about $13.5 million inclusive of interest.

She said Kwabena II, Ekow and Kwadwo, acting in concert between November 2013 and February 2014, dishonestly appropriated the sum of about $9.5 million ostensibly for the purchase of shares in WAICA-Re in the names of Telemedia Communications (Telemedia), Crown Insurance Brokers (Crown Insurance), uniCredit Ghana Limited (uniCredit), HODA. uniBank, uniSecurities Ghana Limited (uniSecurities) and Kwabena. The Prosecution said investigations however disclosed that Telemedia, Crown Insurance, uniCredit. uniSecuritjes and Kwabena held no shares in WMCA-Re.

Ms Akuffo said between November 30, 2016 and December 23, 2016 Kwabena II, Ekow and Kwadwo caused further dishonest transfers to WAICA-Re amounting to about $9 million ostensibly as payments for WAICA-Re rights issue in the names of uniBank, Crown Insurance, Star Micro Insurance, HODA, Star Assurance Limited and StarLife Assurance Limited bringing the total transfers to WAICA-Re to about $18.5 million and it emerged that Crown Insurance and Star Micro Insurance held no shares in WAICA-Re.

The prosecution told the court that on June 14, 2017, Kwabena II, Ekow and Kwadwo again dishonestly caused the entire 4,113,113 shares held by uniBank in WAICA-Re valued at $4, 113.113 to be transferred to HODA without any consideration and investigations later revealed that the transfer of these shares did not go through due process.

She said it was further revealed that the Kwabena II, Ekow and Kwadwo also resorted to an orchestrated scheme to fraudulently cover up uniBank’s real stake in WAICA-Re and facilitated a falsification of the actual state of affairs of the bank in breach of banking regulations.

Source: Ghana News Agency