July 9, 2014 - page 71
An oil company has asked the Financial Division of the High Court to order the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) to defreeze its bank account.
Accusing the EOCO of acting in bad faith, the applicant, Auxesia Energy Limited, urged the court to defreeze its account to enable it to resume normal operations.
While insisting that the EOCO was enjoined by law to exercise its powers in a manner to assist in the facilitation of legitimate business, rather than harming the economic activities of persons in Ghana, the applicant said, “The continued freeze of the applicant’s account is gravely harming the business interests of the applicant and its survival as a business entity properly incorporated under the laws of the country.
An affidavit in support of the motion said the EOCO arbitrarily froze the account of Auxesia Energy at UT Bank in June 2013 without telling the applicant of its crime.
It said although the EOCO later alleged that the applicant was being investigated for terrorism and other related offences, “nothing by way of investigations for the alleged offences has been done”.
It said it was amply clear that the EOCO was not engaged “in any real investigation of our company for any acts of terrorism or any other serious offence but is merely abusing its powers for a capricious purpose known only to itself”.
The motion, which was filed on behalf of the applicant by its lawyer, Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame, on June 25, 2014 further stated that the EOCO had demonstrated its lack of candour and sincerity by siding with an opponent of Auxesia Energy in the claim over ownership of $391,250.
EOCO seeks extension
In a motion filed on June 27, 2014, the EOCO urged the court to extend the order freezing the account of the applicant, with the reason that EOCO was collaborating with the Nigerian authorities to investigate the applicant.
It said the essence of the freezing order, which it sought from the court was to secure the funds in the account of Auxesia Energy in order not to render the outcome of the investigations nugatory.
According to the EOCO, the key actors in the transaction under investigation were not within the jurisdiction and for that reason there was a pressing need to apply for the extension of the freezing order for the conduct of thorough investigations.
“That the extension of the freezing order will allow for investigators to cover the necessary ground and conclude their investigations, which may result in prosecution leading to the confiscation of the funds in the account of the respondent,” the EOCO had concluded.
Meanwhile, a witness, Mr Ben Kwabena Antwi, on July 7, 2014 informed the court that he linked Auxesia Energy to Earth Petroleum, which was then looking for a buyer for Low Pour Fuel Oil (LPFO) in 2013.
Mr Antwi, who works with Earth Oil and Gas, Ghana, told the court, presided over by Mr Justice John Ajet-Nasam, that Auxesia Energy was left with a balance of $100,250 to cover its total indebtedness to Earth Petroleum.
He said Auxesia Energy Limited had not entered into any business transaction with Soleushing Nigeria and Soleushing UK, both vessel operating companies.
He has since completed his evidence-in-chief and is curently being cross-examined.
Both vessel operating companies are laying claim to the $391,250 on the grounds that their vessel had been used to charter the LPFO, but Auxesia Energy insists that it had no dealings with them.
According to Auxesia Energy Limited, it had dealings with only Earth Petroleum
The court is currently taking evidence to determine the actual owner of the $391,250, which was withdrawn from Auxesia Energy’s account based on the orders of the court