Mr Samuel Nii Kotei Quaye, a driver of the Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC), on Monday recounted how he was sent by the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) to collect for her GH¢50,000.00 from the Accounts office of the organisation.
Also known as Nii Quaye, he told the High Court presided over by Mrs Afia Serwaa Asare Botwe, that he was the driver to the former CEO Mrs Sedinam Christine Tamakloe Attionu who has been charged for misappropriating GH¢500,000.00 belonging to the State.
Led in his evidence in chief by Madam Stella Ohene Appiah, Principal State Attorney, Nii Quaye said that on August 31, 2016, he was asked by Sedinam to pick the amount from the Accounts Office for her.
He obliged and at the said office met one Aunty Vic who made him sign a cheque voucher before the money was made available to him to be given to his boss.
The witness told the Court that it was not the first time he had run such an errand but several times.
He said he stopped being the driver of the former CEO in December 2016 after which he was later invited by the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO), where he was shown a cheque voucher and asked whether he knew something about it.
He said “I denied because I could not remember doing that, so from there, I came back to the Accounts Office and saw Aunty Vic who brought what I signed and it reminded me. I came back to EOCO and told them I signed it”.
He said “From there, I was made to write a statement and I left after they told me they would call me anytime they needed me”.
The driver said he also went to Sedinam’s house, off the Spintex Road when he was informed by EOCO later that she had denied receiving the GH¢50,000.00 from him, but in that encounter she denied EOCO’s assertion and admitted that she received the money from him.
Mr Agbesi Dzakpasu, counsel for Sedinam in cross-examination told the prosecution witness that it was no secret that the CEO asked him to pick the said money from the Accounts Office, of which the witness confirmed.
Sedinam the former CEO MASLOC has been charged for misappropriating State funds together with Mr Daniel Axim, also former Operations Manager of MASLOC.
She has pleaded not guilty to the charges of conspiracy, stealing, money laundering and willfully causing financial loss to the state and has been granted bail in the sum of GHȼ5 million with two sureties, whilst Axim has also pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and stealing has been admitted to a bail in the sum of GH¢1 million with one surety.
The Court had earlier heard that Sedinam was CEO of MASLOC from November 2013 to the January 2017 whilst Axim was the then Operations Manager.
In 2017, EOCO conducted investigations into certain fraudulent disbursement of MASLOC funds involving the two accused persons.
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.
Sedinam also offered Obaatanpa a further investment of GH¢500,000.00 and as a result, a MASLOC issued an Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) cheque dated July 24, 2014, in the sum, of GH¢500,000.00 to be drawn in favor of Obaatanpa.
The Prosecution said after Obaatanpa was issued the cheque, Sedinam informed the Board Chairman of Obaatanpa that the money would attract a 24 per cent interest so the company decided to return the money because of the high interest rate and issued a cheque to that effect.
When the cheque was presented, Sedinam declined it and asked for cash rather upon which her request was honoured on August, 24, 2014. Sedinam then wrote a letter to acknowledge receipt of the money.
In 2015, per letters some of which were under the hand of Sedinam, MASLOC made demands on Obaatanpa for the interest on the principal amount of GH¢500,000.00, of which in response Obaatanpa reminded MASLOC of the refunded money and particularly drew the attention of Sedinam to the unjustified demand.
The Prosecution 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 Sedinam.
The Prosecution said further investigations disclosed that in April 2016, Sedinam 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 beneficiary was to receive GH¢20.00 to cover transportation and refreshment.
The Court heard that between April and December 2016, Sedinam 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.
The prosecution 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 also no such 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 Sedinam allegedly appropriated GH¢579,800.00 out of the total amount.
The Prosecution said in August 2016, Sedinam 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 of which 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.
The Prosecution said however, without approval from PPA, Sedinam signed a contract with Mac Autos on December 6, to supply MASLOC with 350 vehicles including 150 Chevy Aveo saloon cars, 100 Chevy Sparklite and a 33-seater Isuzu bus.
Prosecution 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 earlier, 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.
The prosecution said investigations further revealed that in January 2017, Sedinam 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.
According to Prosecution again in that same month, Sedinam caused to be paid to herself and her Deputy GH¢28,445.94 and GH¢27,486.62, respectively.