$4m NCA case suspects shared $500,000 — prosecution witness
A prosecution witness has testified that an amount of $500,000 was shared among three of the five accused persons standing trial over the $4 million National Communication Authority (NCA) alleged scandal involving the purchase of a cyber communication equipment for the state.
The case investigator, Detective Chief Inspector Michael Nkrumah, made the revelation to the Accra High Court yesterday when he tendered in evidence three caution statements that Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie, one of the accused and former Board Chairman of the NCA, gave to the police during the course of investigations into the alleged scandal.
Chief Inspector Nkrumah read the caution statement in which Baffoe-Bonnie allegedly confirmed that he (Baffoe-Bonnie) gave out an amount of $500,000 to Nana Owusu Ensaw, the third accused person and former board member of the NCA, to be shared among him (Nana Ensaw), William Tetteh-Tevie, the second accused person and former Director General of the NCA, and Alhaji Salifu Mimina Osman, the fourth accused person, who is a former Deputy National Security Coordinator.
Per what the witness read to the court, Baffoe-Bonnie allegedly told the police that Nana Ensaw received $200,000, with Tevie and Osman receiving $150,000 each.
Alleged bank transfers and deposit
Led by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Mrs Yvonne Attakorah-Obuobisa, Chief Inspector Nkrumah further testified that his investigations revealed that the NCA, on March 11, 2016, transferred $4 million into the account of Inferlocks Development Limited (IDL), the local partner of the Israeli company that was to provide the communication equipment.
He said when the $4 million hit the accounts of IDL, the lead of the company, George Derek Oppong, the fifth accused person, made a series of withdrawals and transfers, with the last being the transfer of $1 million to the NCA on May 15, 2017 as refund.
According to the witness, as part of investigations, he got access to the bank accounts of the accused persons with the help of the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC).
Chief Inspector Nkrumah said his investigations revealed that Nana Ensaw had deposited $300,000 into his bank account on November 3, 2016.
“During the investigations, I asked A3 (Nana Ensaw) how he came by the $300,000 and deposited the money in one day. A3 told me that while he was in medical school, he had the intention of establishing a private clinic and so he saved towards that.
“ He also said he got a contract, and it was part of the amount that was realised. He showed me the contract but there was no proof of payment attached to it,” Chief Inspector Nkrumah said.
Hearing continues on April 4, 2019 for the defence to cross-examine the witness.
Caution statements admitted into evidence
The prosecution was able to tender the three caution statements of Baffoe-Bonnie in evidence after the court had ruled that they were admissible.
In its ruling yesterday, the court, presided over by Mr Justice Eric Kyei Baffour, held that the statements Baffoe-Bonnie gave to the police on May 19, 2017 were made in the presence of his counsel and an independent witness, as required by law.
The court, however, did not admit in evidence three other caution statements that Baffoe-Bonnie gave to the police on May 9 and May 10, 2017 on the basis that they were given without the presence of an independent witness, as stipulated by the law.
Mr Thaddeus Sory, counsel for Baffoe-Bonnie, on March 5, 2019, had challenged the admissibility of the police caution and charged statements given by his client, which indicated that his client and the rest of the accused persons benefited financially from the purchase of the cyber security equipment.
Mr Sory held that Baffoe-Bonnie gave those statements without the presence of a lawyer, while the police failed to advise him on his right to a lawyer of his choice.
According to Mr Sory, his client also gave the statements under duress after he was threatened.
It is the case of the prosecution that the previous government had contracted an Israeli company, NSO Group Technology Limited, to supply a listening device equipment at a cost of $6 million to enable the authorities to intercept communications and prevent terrorist activities.
The local agent, IDL, charged $2 million to facilitate the transaction, bringing the total sum to $8 million.
The facts said 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 such equipment, was asked to fund the project.
It is the contention of the prosecution that the NCA made available $4 million for the equipment but the accused persons embezzled it.
The accused persons have been charged with diverse counts of wilfully causing financial loss of $4 million to the state, stealing, conspiracy, money laundering, among other charges.
They have pleaded not guilty to all the charges and are currently on bail in the sum of $1 million each.