Thursday, June 4, 2015

State appeals against conviction of three : Fined GH¢30,000 for stealing GH¢623,030

The state has appealed the conviction and fine of three persons who stole a total of GH¢623,030 belonging to the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR).
The High Court, presided over by Mr Justice John Ajet-Nasam, on May 18, 2015 convicted three persons to a fine of GH¢30,000 each for stealing GH¢623,030 from the accounts of TOR in 2007. 
Frank Kpemli, alias George Owusu; Richard Afari, alias Wofa, and Mohammed Sanusi Bagigah, alias Parker, were each fined GH¢30,000 or in default serve 15 years’ imprisonment each with hard labour.
Another aspect of the judgement complained of by the state was the acquittal and discharge of the fifth accused person, Bernard Sallah.
Notice of appeal
A notice of appeal filed on behalf of the Attorney-General’s Department said the state was dissatisfied with the judgement of the High Court and was, accordingly, urging the Court of Appeal to quash it.
The decision complained of, according to the state, “is the part of the judgement acquitting and discharging the fifth accused Bernard Sallah and the part of the judgement sentencing the first, second and fourth accused persons to a fine of GH¢30,000 and in default 15 years’ imprisonment”.
Grounds of appeal
According to the prosecution, the judgement of the court in respect of Sallah could not be supported, having regard to the evidence on record.
The state argued that the judge erred in law when he imposed a fine on the three convicts, instead of a custodial sentence.
“The sentence of a fine of GH¢30,000 each and in default 15 years’ imprisonment imposed on the first, second and fourth accused persons is not proportionate to the offences for which they were convicted,” it said.
Reliefs sought 
Consequently, the state wants the Court of Appeal to set aside Sallah’s acquittal and order his conviction, as well as the correction of the conviction of Kpemli, Afari and Bagigah.
A fourth accused person, Joseph Nyanor, was acquitted and discharged during the trial after his lawyers had filed a submission of ‘no case’.
The five were all charged with one count of conspiracy to commit crime, namely, stealing, contrary to the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29), while Kpemli was also charged with four counts of stealing contrary to section 124 (1) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960, (Act 29).
Afari, alias Wofa was charged with one count of stealing, whereas Bagigah faced 15 counts of forgery.
The facts of the case were that on July 6, 2007, Kpemli, using the false name George Owusu, went to the Stanbic Bank, headquarters branch in Accra, to cash GH¢20,000. 
In the course of processing the money for Kpemli, officials at the bank, who had become suspicious of the huge sums of money passing through the accused’s account purporting to come from the TOR account at the GCB, alerted TOR and the police. 
The police rushed to the bank and picked up Kpemli for interrogation. 
In the course of interrogation, Kpemli revealed that he was part of a syndicate working to siphon various sums of money from TOR accounts by using TOR cheques.
He mentioned Sallah as a member of the syndicate who assisted him to open a number of accounts with various banks where money drawn on TOR accounts at the GCB had been lodged and withdrawn. 
He also cited Afari as the one who recruited him into the syndicate and also lodged the various amounts of money belonging to TOR into the various accounts opened in his name. 
Meanwhile, a mini statement requested by TOR from the GCB revealed a number of unauthorised withdrawals from the company’s account at GCB. 
Investigations revealed that those withdrawals had been made on the TOR account through 15 TOR cheque leaflets. 

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