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Trial of former MASLOC boss in absentia in limbo

BY: Emmanuel Ebo Hawkson
Sedina Tamakloe Attionu has been accused of causing financial loss of more than GH¢90million during her tenure as CEO of MASLOC

An attempt by state prosecutors to have former boss of the Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC), Sedina Tamakloe Attionu, tried in absentia is in limbo.

State prosecutors had filed an application for Mrs Attionu to be tried in absentia following her failure to attend the trial since October 2021.

However, at Monday's (May 9, 2022) hearing, the Accra High Court said it would not hear the application for trial in absentia until it determines another application seeking to hold the sureties who guaranteed Mrs Attionu’s bail responsible for her absence.

“I will not determine the application for trial in absentia until the application for forfeiture has been determined,” the presiding judge, Justice Afia Serwaa Asare-Botwe, said.

Missing in action

Mrs Attionu, who is on trial for allegedly causing financial loss of GH¢90 million to the state during her tenure as the CEO of MASLOC (2013 - January 2017), has failed to show up for the trial after being granted permission by the court to travel to the USA for a medical treatment.

She was expected to return to Ghana for the continuation of her trial on October 6, last year, but is yet to show up, a situation that has crippled the trial.

In November, last year, Justice Asare-Botwe expressed her displeasure about the situation and issued a bench warrant for Ms Attionu’s arrest to force her to attend the trial.

Afterwards, the prosecution filed an application for trial in absentia.

It then followed up with an application for forfeiture of recognizance, which is directed at the two sureties who executed Mrs Attionu’s GHC5m bail bond, to show any justification why they should not be made to pay the bail sum due to her absence from the trial.

The two sureties for Mrs Attionu are Alex Mould and Gavivina Tamakloe.

The prosecution withdrew the first application for forfeiture and filed a fresh one.

Application for forfeiture

At the hearing Monday, the prosecutor, Stella Ohena Appiah, a Principal State Attorney, told the court that the two sureties had been informed about the fresh application of forfeiture.

She therefore asked the court for a two-week adjournment to enable the prosecution serve the sureties with the application.

The prosecutor also reminded the court about the application for Mrs Attionu’s trial in absentia.

Justice Asare-Botwe, however, told the prosecutor that the court would not hear the application for the trial in absentia until the application for forfeiture had been determined.

Hearing continues on May 24, 2022.

Not guilty

Mrs Attionu is on trial with Daniel Axim, a former Operations Manager of MASLOC, on 78 counts of willfully causing financial loss to the state, stealing, contravention of the public procurement act, among other charges.

The two have denied any wrongdoing and have pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Prosecution’s case

The prosecution has accused Attionu of engaging in some illegalities leading to the alleged accused stealing and financial loss.

For instance, it has accused Attionu of embezzling GH¢500,000 that was paid by a company which benefitted from MASLOC support in 2014.

It is also the case of the prosecution that in 2013, following a fire disaster at the Kantamanto Market, then President John Mahama directed MASLOC to provide assistance of GH¢1.46 million to victims of the disaster but Attionu embezzled part of the money.

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