OSP freezes Cecilia Dapaah’s accounts again
The Special Prosecutor, Kissi Agyebeng, has once again directed the freezing and seizure of Cecilia Abena Dapaah’s bank accounts and cash found at her Abelenkpe residence in Accra.
This comes barely five days after the High Court in Accra last Thursday ordered him to return the confiscated assets of the former Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources within seven days.
The court held that the Office of the Special Prosecutor breached the Special Prosecutor Act, 2017 (Act 959) when he filed the application out of time (after seven days’ suspicion).
In a statement issued yesterday, the Special Prosecutor said after complying with the court’s ruling, ongoing investigation by his office in respect of Ms Dapaah had uncovered “varying and sometimes conflicting accounts of the ownership and source(s) of the large amounts of money reportedly stolen from her residence, the cash amounts seized from her by the OSP, and the nature and volume of transactions in her bank accounts and investments”.
Consequently, the Special Prosecutor said freezing the bank accounts and investments of Ms Dapaah was necessary to facilitate the ongoing investigation in line with section 38(1) of the Office of the Special Prosecutor Act, 2017 (Act 959) and regulation 19(1) of Legislative Instrument (L.I.) 2374.
The statement said the Special Prosecutor had reasonable grounds to suspect that the cash seized from and returned to Ms Dapaah was tainted property, adding that it was necessary to exercise the power of seizure to prevent the concealment or loss of said cash in line with section 32(1)(a) of Act 959.
The High Court in Accra last Thursday dismissed the Special Prosecutor’s application seeking to continue freezing the bank accounts and assets of Ms Dapaah.
In a ruling, the court, presided over by Justice Edward Twum, held that the OSP breached Act 959 when he filed the application out of time.
Aside from that, it was the view of the court that the OSP was in doubt about the true ownership of the alleged tainted property found in Ms Dapaah’s house and also failed to convince the court that the alleged tainted property were used in connection with a crime.
“If he (OSP) is unsure as to ownership, how did he reach the conclusion that the property is tainted?” the presiding judge queried.
“Ownership and possession are not the same,” Justice Twum added, saying the application was premature as the OSP failed to establish the reasonableness of the suspicion.
It added that there was no justifiable basis for the OSP to exercise the power of seizure under Act 959.
“The application is based on public sentiments and not based on any justifiable legal basis,” Justice Twum said.
The OSP commenced investigation on Ms Dapaah for corruption and corruption-related offences following the revelation that she was keeping more than $1 million in her house.
That was after police prosecutors had arraigned two househelps working for Ms Dapaah and her husband, Daniel Osei Kuffour, at an Accra Circuit Court for allegedly stealing money and items worth millions of Ghana cedis from the couple's residence at Abelemkpe in Accra.
Subsequently, the OSP searched the residence of the former minister and found $590,000 and GH¢2.73 million.
The Special Prosecutor seized the cash and froze the former minister’s cedi and dollar bank accounts, pending further investigations.
The OSP then applied to the High Court to continue the seizure and freezing of the bank accounts of the former minister.
Officials of the OSP argued that the cash was seized on the grounds that they were suspected to be tainted property, hence the need to prevent the former minister’s bank accounts from concealment or loss.
However, the application was dismissed and the OSP was ordered to return the confiscated assets of the former Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources within seven days.