The Commercial Division of the High Court in Accra has directed five persons accused of causing financial loss of $4 million to the state to open their defence following the establishment of a prima facie case against them.
The trial judge, Mr Justice Eric Kyei Baffour held that the prosecution established a prima facie case against Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie; the former Board Chair of the National Communication Authority (NCA), William Tetteh Tevie; former Director-General of the NCA; Nana Owusu Ensaw, a former board member; Alhaji Salifu Mimina Osman, a former Deputy National Security Coordinator, and a businessman, George Derek Oppong.
However, Ensaw has been discharged on four counts namely conspiracy, willfully causing financial loss to the state, using public office for profit and intentionally misapplying public property.
The various charges against the other accused persons to wit conspiracy, willfully causing financial loss to the state, using public office for profit, stealing, money laundering and intentionally misapplying public property still apply.
Additionally, Ensaw is to open his defence to rebut charges of money laundering and stealing.
They are accordingly expected to open their defence on May 30, 2019.
Baffoe-Bonnie is expected to testify that day barring any hitch or decision by the defence team to appeal today’s ruling.
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Citing authorities and evidence adduced in court to buttress the court’s decision, the trial judge held that the accused persons, except Oppong were public officers at the time the alleged offences were committed.
Justice Baffour held that the prosecution led sufficient evidence to warrant the court’s decision to invite them to open their defence.
The accused persons, who were visibly not happy with the court’s decision exited the courtroom with their equally unhappy lawyers and family members.
The lawyers were silent on whether or not they would appeal the court’s decision.
Lawyers for the accused persons filed their written submissions of no case and indicated that the prosecution failed to prove a prima facie case against their clients.
They accordingly prayed the court to free their clients but the prosecution disagreed.
The state called a total of six witnesses.
The accused persons are standing trial for their alleged involvement in the embezzlement of $4 million of state funds during the purchase of listening devices for the National Security, which was sponsored by the NCA.
They have pleaded not guilty to all the charges and are currently on bail in the sum of $1 million each.
According to the facts of the case, Baffoe-Bonnie, Tevie and Osman were allegedly aided by Oppong to engage in the alleged illegal act.
The previous government, the prosecution said, had contracted an Israeli company, NSO Group Technology Limited, to supply listening equipment at a cost of $6 million to enable the authorities to monitor conversations of persons suspected to be engaged in terror activities.
A local agent, Infraloks Development Limited, charged $2 million to facilitate the transaction, bringing the total sum to $8 million.
The facts said the National Security did not have the money to fund the transaction and for that reason the NCA, which had supervisory jurisdiction over the use of the equipment, was asked to fund the project.
It said $4 million was withdrawn from the account of the NCA, while $1 million out of the withdrawn amount was deposited into the account of the Israeli company.
According to the state, the remaining $3 million was lodged in the account of Oppong, who acted as a representative of the local agents, Infraloks Development Ltd.
The prosecution said Osman allegedly fronted for the entire deal.
The accused persons are alleged to have later laundered the amount for their private benefit.