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FORMER MASLOC BOSS AND COLLEAGUE CHARGED WITH 80 COUNTS OF THEFT

Politics

Two employees of the Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC) under the John Mahama-led National Democratic Congress government have been charged with 80 counts of stealing and causing financial loss to the state.

Two employees of the Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC) under the John Mahama-led National Democratic Congress government have been charged with 80 counts of stealing and causing financial loss to the state.

 

Sedina Christine Tamakloe Attionu, former chief executive officer of MASLOC, and a former operations manager for the agency, Daniel Axim, have been charged with causing loss of public property, improper payment of public funds, unauthorised commitment resulting in financial obligation for the government, money laundering and contravention of the Public Procurement Act.

The first accused, Mrs Tamakloe Attionu, was head of MASLOC between November 2013 and January 2017.

Both she and Mr Axim are expected to be arraigned before court on Monday, February 4 2019.

EOCO investigation

The charges were preferred against them after investigations by the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) into alleged fraudulent disbursement of MASLOC funds under the Mahama government.

Some of the details in the charge sheet filed at the Registry of the Criminal Division of the High Court in Accra by the state suggest that investigations by EOCO showed that in June 2014, MASLOC invested GHC150,000 in Obaatanpa Micro-Finance Company Ltd, a licensed Tier II microfinance company located at Ejura in the Ashanti Region.

Thereafter, the first accused offered Obaatanpa a further investment of GHC500,000. As a result, a MASLOC Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) cheque dated July 24 2014, for the sum of half a million cedis, was drawn in favour of Obaatanpa.

Soon after Obaatanpa received the MASLOC cheque, the first accused informed the board chairman of Obaatanpa that the investment of GHC500,000 would attract 24 per cent interest.

Obaatanpa decided to return the money to MASLOC, as the interest rate demanded by the accused was too high, and would make its business unprofitable. It issued a cheque to refund the loan amount.

The facts further state that upon presentation of the cheque, the first accused declined to accept the cheque and made a demand for a cash refund. GHC500,000 in cash was delivered to the first accused by the board chairman of Obaatanpa on the night of August 28 2014 at the Baatsona Total filling station located on the Spintex Road, Accra. By a letter dated August 28 2014, Mrs Tamakloe Attionu acknowledged receipt of the refund.

In 2015, according to correspondence, some of which was under the hand of the first accused, MASLOC made demands on Obaatanpa for payment of interest on the principal investment sum of GHC500,000.

In response to the demands, the company wrote a reminder to MASLOC concerning the payment of the loan amount and drew the attention of the first accused person to the unjustified demands, whereupon the demands stopped.

In 2017, upon assumption of office by a new chief executive of MASLOC, a demand notice was again sent to Obaatanpa for payment of accrued interest on the same investment sum of GHC500,000.

Obaatanpa once again informed MASLOC that the said money had already been refunded in 2014.

Investigations subsequently showed that MASLOC had no record of the amount having been paid to it and that the first accused had appropriated the GHC500,000.

Fire victims’ cash

The investigations, the state says, showed that in 2013, following a fire at Kantamanto Market in Accra, the then President John Mahama directed MASLOC to provide assistance of GHC1,465,035 to victims of the disaster.

The money, however, was to be disbursed through Dwadifo Adamfo Savings and Loans Company Ltd. State inquiries, the charge sheet says, showed that the first accused appropriated GHC579,800 out of the sum of GHC1,465,035.

Further charges

In August 2016, the first accused person wrote on behalf of MASLOC to the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) for approval to procure vehicles from Mac Autos and Spare Parts Ltd for the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU), using the single-source method allowed under the terms of the Public Procurement Act.

In October 2016, the PPA wrote back to MASLOC requesting MASLOC to furnish it with financial arrangements approved by the Ministry of Finance.

On December 5 2016, the then Minister of Finance wrote to the PPA to confirm financial arrangements being put in place for the purchase of vehicles. However, without any approval from the PPA, the first accused proceeded to sign a contract with Mac Autos on December 6 2016 to supply MASLOC with 350 vehicles, comprising 150 Chevy Aveo saloon cars, 100 Chevy Sparklites and 100 33-seater Isuzu buses.

MASLOC applied for a tax waiver on all the vehicles.

The unit price offered by Mac Autos to MASLOC for the Chevy Aveos was GHC74,495 (US$18,883.39). Investigations however revealed that the actual retail price Mac offered for the same model within the same year without duty was GHC47,346.93 ($12,009.91).

The unit price offered for the Chevy Sparklite was GHC65,095 ($16,500.63) but the actual price offered by Mac Autos in that same period, without duty, was GHC35,918.37 ($9,104.77).

For the Isuzu 33-seater buses, the unit price offered to MASLOC was GHC445,560 ($112,942.96) but the actual retail price without duty was GHC293,877.55 ($74,493.67).