Mrs Sedina Christine Tamakloe Attionu the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC), who has been charged for misappropriating State funds on Monday, appeared before an Accra High Court.
In the dock with her was Daniel Axim, also former Operations Manager of MASLOC.
Sedina pleaded not guilty to the charges of conspiracy, stealing, money laundering and wilfully causing financial loss to the state and was granted bail in the sum of GHC 5million with two sureties, whilst Axim who also pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and stealing was admitted to a GHC one million bail with one surety.
The court directed that all the sureties should be independent and economically sufficient as well as having no criminal record and not under criminal investigations.
The Court presided over by Mrs Efia Serwah Asare-Botwe ordered the accused persons to deposit their passports with the Court’s Registry.
The Court adjourned the matter to March 4, for case management.
Mrs Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa, Director of Public Prosecutions, told the court that Sedina was Chief Executive Office (CEO) MASLOC from November 2013 to the January 2017 whilst Axim was the Former Operations Manager.
She said in 2017, the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) conducted investigations into certain fraudulent disbursement of MASLOC funds involving the two accused persons.
The prosecution said the audit revealed that, in June 2014, MASLOC invested GH₵ 150,000.00 in Obaatanpa Micro-Finance Company Limited, a licensed Tier II Micro-Finance Company located at Ejura in the Ashanti Region.
The Prosecution said Sedina also offered Obaatanpa a further investment of GH₵ 500,000.00 and as a result, a MASLOC Agricultural Development Bank (adb) cheque dated July 24, 2014, in the sum, of GH₵ 500,000.00 was drawn in favor of Obaatanpa.
Mrs Obuobisa said after Obaatanpa was issued the cheque, Sedina informed the Board Chairman of Obaatanpa that the money would attract a 24 per cent interest but the company decided to return the money because of the high interest rate and issued a cheque to that effect.
She said when the cheque was presented, Sedina declined and asked for cash rather upon which her request was honoured on August, 24, 2014. Sedina then wrote a letter to acknowledge receipt of the money.
The Prosecution said in 2015, per letters some of which were under the hand of Sedina, GH₵ MASLOC made demands on Obaatanpa for the interest on the principal amount of GH₵ 500,000.00, in response Obaatanpa reminded MASLOC of the refund and particularly drew the attention of Sedina to the unjustified demands.
She said in 2017, when a new CEO took office, a demand notice was again sent to Obaatanpa for the payment of the accrued interest of which Obaatanpa again informed MASLOC of the payment but investigations revealed that MASLOC had no record of the amount repayment in cash to Sedina.
The Prosecution said further investigations disclosed that in April 2016, Sedina obtained the approval of the MASLOC Board to utilize GH₵ 1,706,000.00 of MASLOC funds for a nation-wide sensitization and monitoring programme for 85,300 beneficiaries of MASLOC loans, where each of the beneficiaries was to receive GH₵ 20.00 to cover transportation and refreshment.
She said between April and December 2016, Sedina used her office to withdraw GH₵ 1,816,000.00 in three tranches though the Board had approved of only GH₵ 1,706,000.00.
She said other investigations revealed that out of the GH₵ 1,816,000.00 only GH₵ 1,300.00 was spent on refreshment for some beneficiaries in the Volta, Greater Accra and Brong Ahafo Regions and that no Programme took place in the other regions.
The Prosecution said investigations also revealed that in 2013 following a fire disaster at the Kantamanto market, the then President John Dramani Mahama directed MASLOC to provide assistance of GH₵ 1,465.035.00 to victims, of which the money was to be disbursed through Dwadifo Adanfo Savings and Loans Company Limited but Sedina appropriated GH₵ 579,800.00 out of the total amount.
The Prosecution said in August 2016, Sedina on behalf of MASLOC wrote to the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) for approval to procure vehicles from Mac Autos and Spare Parts Limited for the Ghana Private Roads Transport Union using sole-sourcing under the PPA Act.
The Prosecution said in October 2016, the PPA wrote to MASLOC requesting it to furnish it with financial arrangements approved by the Ministry of Finance and on December 5, same year, the then Minister for Finance wrote to the PPA to confirm financial arrangements which were being put in place for the purchase of vehicles.
She said however, without approval from PPA, Sedina signed a contract with Mac Autos on December 6 to supply MASLOC with 350 vehicles including 150 Chevy Aveo saloon, 100 Chevy Sparklite and a 33-seater Isuzu bus.
Mrs. Obuobisa said MASLOC applied for a tax waiver on all the vehicles, saying, the unit price offered for the Chevy Aveo was GH₵ 74,495.00 but investigations revealed that the actual price was GH₵ 47,346.93, whilst she gave that of the Chevy Sparklite as GH₵ 65,095.00 whilst the actual price was GH₵ 35,918.37 and Isuzu 33-seater bus as GH₵ 445,560.00 but the actual price was GH₵ 293,877.55.
The Prosecution said, in November 2016, MASLOC procured 200 pieces of Samsung B310 mobile dual sim phones at GH₵ 93,412.00 under a project called PINCO Project Market Survey, whilst the actual price was GH₵ 24,400.00.
She said, another investigation brought to light that in January 2017, Sedina without the requisite approval and authorization 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.
She further said in that same month, Sedina caused to be paid to herself and her Deputy GH₵ 28,445.94 and GH₵ 27,486.62, respectively.
Present at the Court were Madam Betty Mould Iddrisu, Madam Marrietta Brew Oppong, Kwadwo Bonsu, former Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly mayor, among others.