Friday, January 31, 2014

Court orders UT boss, lawyer to open defence in fraud case

 January 29, 2014 (Page 43)

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of UT Holdings Limited, Prince Kofi Amoabeng, and a lawyer suffered a setback at the Circuit Court in Accra yesterday when the court ordered them to open their defence in a fraud case brought against them by the state.
Dismissing a submission of ‘no case’ filed on their behalf by their lawyers, the court, presided over by Mr Francis Obiri, ruled that the prosecution had established a prima facie case against the two to warrant them to open their defence.
They are, therefore, expected to open their defence on February 11, 2014.
The two left the court premises in low spirits, while the complainant looked elated.

The Offences

Amoabeng has been accused of releasing title deed documents of the complainant, Naa Otuah Sawyne, which were in the custody of his bank to one Alexander Adjei, now deceased, to secure a loan of GH¢1,279,000 from the HFC Bank.
His accomplice, John Aidoo, is also alleged to have altered the title deeds of the complainant to reflect Adjei’s name without recourse to the complainant.
Amoabeng has pleaded not guilty to one count of fraud, while Aidoo has pleaded not guilty to one count of abetment of crime.
Both have been admitted to bail.
The prosecution called five witnesses who testified against the two accused persons but the two filed submissions of ‘no case’ after the prosecution had closed its case.
They had argued that the prosecution had failed to prove their guilt and for that reason the court must set them free.
Open your defence
Giving reasons for dismissing the submissions of ‘no case’, the court held that the prosecution was able to establish that the documents Adjei used in securing the loan at the HFC Bank did, indeed, belong to the complainant.
The court held that the prosecution was also able to establish that Amoabeng wrote to the State Housing Company (SHC) requesting the SHC to transfer the documents into the name of Adjei without the consent of the complainant.
It further ruled that the prosecution was able to prove that Amoabeng gave the document to Adjei to secure a loan at the HFC Bank without the complainant’s permission.

Evidence against lawyer

The court said Aidoo, who was the Solicitor Secretary of SHC at the time of the commission of the offence, knew that the complainant had not given her consent for her documents to be used as collateral for Adjei but he still went ahead to give approval for the document to be altered to bear the name of Adjei.
Based on those pieces of evidence adduced by the prosecution, the court held an overall view that the accused persons needed to open their defence to state their side of the story.

Facts of the case
A Deputy Superintendent of Police, Aidan Dery, prosecuted the case.
According to the facts of the case, as presented by the prosecution, Ms Sawyne is a novelist residing at Dansoman in Accra.
In October 2005, the complainant decided to sell her house at Number 23 Ringway Estate in Accra and thus entered into a sale and purchase agreement with Adjei.
Per the agreement, the complainant and Adjei agreed on $280,000 as the purchase price, which was to be paid in three instalments in October, November and December 2005.
Adjei paid $100,000 on October 14, 2005, as agreed, but failed to pay the remaining amount.
The prosecution said the complainant was billed to travel to the UK and for that reason she borrowed GH¢25,000 from UT Financial Services and used the title deed of her house as collateral.
As part of the loan agreement, the complainant prepared and signed a deed of assignment conditionally in respect of sale transaction with the understanding that the final transaction would be witnessed by her lawyer, Martin Nwousu, and handed over to the buyer upon full payment of the purchase price.

“Closed-door” transactions

However, on May 22, 2006, Adjei allegedly used the complainant’s title deed, which was then in the custody of Amoabeng, to obtain a loan facility from the HFC Bank.
On September 27, 2007, the prosecution indicated, Amoabeng, without recourse to the complainant, allegedly wrote a letter to the SHC informing it that Adjei had purchased the complainant’s house and, therefore, asked SHC to assign the property to Adjei.
According to the prosecution, Aidoo, then the Solicitor Secretary of SHC, having records that the complainant owned the property in question, signed a letter of consent and gave consent to mortgage property on July 23, 2009, an act which he (Aidoo) had no capacity to carry out.



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