An Accra High Court yesterday heard how the former Chief Executive Officer of the Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC), Christine Sedina Tamakloe Attionu, took an amount of GH¢500,000 in a ‘Ghana Must Go’ bag at a filling station in Accra.
The money was a refund of an investment MASLOC made in a private microfinance company, Obaatanpa Microfinance Company Limited, in 2014.
The refund was necessitated by a high interest demanded on the investment made by the erstwhile managers of MASLOC under the leadership of Ms. Attionu.
It would be recalled that the Attorney General at the beginning of the trial of the ex-MASLOC boss said the money was never returned to MASLOC, as she allegedly appropriated it.
Ms. Attionu and Daniel Axim, a former Operations Manager of MASLOC, are facing 78 counts of charges including conspiracy to steal, stealing, unauthorized commitment, resulting in a financial obligation for the government; improper payment, money laundering and contravention of the Public Procurement Act.
The two accused persons allegedly stole a total amount of GH¢3,198,280 whilst at MASLOC and willfully caused a GH¢1,973,780 financial loss to the state.
Again, Ms. Attionu and her accomplice while in charge of MASLOC allegedly made unauthorized commitments, resulting in financial obligations for the government to the tune of GH¢61,735,832.50.
The charges against the two also include a GH¢22,158,118.85 loss to public property and improper payment of GH¢273,743.66, as well as money laundering of GH¢3,704,380 whilst in charge.
Samuel Quansah, a second prosecution witness led in his evidence-in-chief by Stella Ohene Appiah, a Senior State Attorney, told the court that Obaatanpa in 2014 had investments from MASLOC.
He said the first investment was GH¢150,000 with an interest rate of about 1.5 per cent to 2 per cent per month and this investment led to the company getting a lot of customers.
He told the court that, as a result, they wrote to MASLOC again requesting additional investment of GH¢1 million but MASLOC decided to invest half of the amount which was GH¢500,000 in 2014.
The court heard that MASLOC was, however, charging 4 per cent interest on the second investment which was far higher than the first so they decided to rerun the money to MASLOC.
Mr. Quansah who is a board member of Obaatanpa told the court that Ms. Attionu had requested that the refund be done in cash, saying most of the cheques that were sent to MASLOC turned out to bounce at the bank.
He said the company had to withdraw the monies from its commercial account at Ejura as well as its Sinapi Aba Account to raise the total amount of GH¢500,000 to refund to MASLOC.
He said on returning to Accra with the money in a ‘Ghana Must Go’ bag, the manager of Obaatanpa, Seth Asiedu Obugyei, told him that they were to meet Ms. Attionu at Baatsona Total Filling Station on the Spintex road to give her the money.
He said few minutes after getting to Baatsona Total, Mr. Asiedu made a call and “and then he told me that the person said we should park and they will come and park at our back.”
“Few minutes after our parking, a black Nissan Prado parked at our back so Mr. Asiedu got down and took the money from our car and placed it in that Prado at the back seat and then upon placing the money in the vehicle he also went and sat at the passenger side of the Prado. The driver switched on the inside light and had a conversation with Mr. Asiedu for some few minutes before he came back to our car. When they switched on the inside light I looked through my mirror and I saw that it was the CEO of MASLOC,” the witness recounted.
When asked who the CEO of MASLOC was, Mr. Quansah told the court that it was Ms. Attionu and went ahead to point her out in the courtroom.
He told the court that Obaatanpa later requested a receipt of the refund for auditing purposes.
He said a few weeks after the payment, he went to the MASLOC secretariat and got the acknowledgment letter of the refund from Ms. Attionu’s secretary.
He tendered the receipt as well as the proposal Obaatanpa presented to MASLOC for the GH¢500,000 investment.
Agbesi Kwadzo Dzakpasu, counsel for Ms. Attionu, began cross-examining the witness by asking him whether he counted the money or it was counted in his presence and what denominations they were.
Mr. Quansah said the money was counted in his presence and there was GH¢100,000 of GH¢10 notes, GH¢200,000 of GH¢20 notes as well as GH¢200,000 of GH¢50 notes.
Sitting continues today.