July 22, 2024

At least three leading members of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) are currently being prosecuted for “causing financial loss to the state” and other related crimes.

The Minority Leader and Member of Parliament (MP) for Ajumako Enyan Esiam, Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson, is being prosecuted for causing financial loss to the state in the purchase of 200 ambulances when he was Deputy Minister of Finance.

The MP for Asutifi South and former Minister for Works and Housing, Alhaji Collins Dauda, is also being prosecuted for causing financial loss to the state from some of his actions as the minister that oversaw the construction of the Saglemi Housing Project.

Similarly, the former Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Cocoa Board, Dr. Stephen Opuni, is being prosecuted for causing financial loss in the purchase of fertilizer meant to be distributed to cocoa farmers.

Already, a former boss of the Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC), Sedina Tamakloe Attionu, has been convicted of causing financial loss of GH¢90 million to the state from some of the actions she took while in office, and has been sentenced to a prison term of 10 years.

This GhanaWeb article looks at what ‘causing financial loss’ is and the penalties it attracts per the laws of Ghana.

What the Criminal Offences Act 1960, (ACT 29) says about causing financial loss to the State:

The phrase ‘causing financial loss’ is mentioned as an offence under the Criminal Code, 1960 (Act 29).

More specifically, Chapter 4 of the Criminal Code, which is named “Special Offences”, indicates what constitutes financial loss to the state.

Section 179(A) states that a person caught intentionally causing loss, damaging, or injuring property of any public body or any agency of the State commits the offence.

More specifically, in relation to the crimes the politicians mentioned above are being accused of, Section 179 (A2) states that a person who, in the course of any transaction of government business, intentionally causes loss is guilty of the offence.

Below are the exact words of the Criminal Offences Act:

CHAPTER 4—SPECIAL OFFENCES

Section 179A—Causing Loss, Damage, or Injury to Property.

(1) Any person who by a wilful act or omission causes loss, damage, or injury to the property of any public body or any agency of the State commits an offence.

(2) Any person who in the course of any transaction or business with a public body or any agency of the State intentionally causes damage or loss, whether economic or otherwise, to the body or agency commits an offence.

(3) Any person through whose wilful, malicious, or fraudulent action or omission— (a) the State incurs a financial loss; or (b) the security of the State is endangered, commits an offence.

(4) In this section, “public body” includes the State, Government of Ghana, public board or corporation, public institution, and any company or other body in which the State or a public corporation or other statutory body has a proprietary interest.

Punishment for causing financial loss to the state:

Section 179(D) of Act 29 prescribes the punishment for causing financial loss, including a fine of not less than five million cedis and/or a prison term not exceeding ten years.

“A person convicted of an offence under any of the offences specified in this Chapter is liable on conviction to a fine of not less than ¢5 million or imprisonment not exceeding ten years or both.”

Brief on the state’s cases against the three leading NDC members:

Dr. Ato Forson:
Dr. Ato Forson, a former Deputy Minister of Finance; Sylvester Anemana, a former Chief Director at the Ministry of Health; and a private businessman, Richard Jakpa, are standing trial for allegedly wilfully causing financial loss of €2.37 million to the state through a contract to purchase 200 ambulances for the Ministry of Health.

The trial of the former deputy minister and the two others started on January 18, 2022, before the court presided over by Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe, a Court of Appeal Judge sitting as an additional High Court Judge.

They have pleaded not guilty to the five counts of wilfully causing financial loss to the state, abetment of crime, contravention of the Public Procurement Act, and intentionally misapplying public property.

The state in March 2024 opted to discontinue the case against the former Chief Director at the Ministry, who is currently undergoing further care in India due to health complications.

The Minority Leader has rejected the assertion of the state that the vehicles purchased do not meet ambulance specifications and therefore are “not fit for purpose”.

Dr. Opuni:
Dr. Opuni, businessman Seidu Agongo, and Agricult Ghana Limited are facing 27 charges, including defrauding by false pretences, wilfully causing financial loss to the state, corruption by public officers, and contravention of the Public Procurement Act.

The accused persons have been accused of causing a financial loss of more than GH¢271 million to the state in a series of lithovit foliar fertilizer transactions.

Collins Dauda:
Alhaji Collins Dauda and three others, including Kweku Agyeman Mensah, also former Ministers of Works and Housing, were charged on August 5, 2021, with 52 counts, including causing financial loss to the state.

They are facing charges of intentionally misapplying public property, causing financial loss to the state, and issuing false certificates in the Saglemi Affordable Housing Project, which involved the sum of $200 million.

Alhaji Collins Dauda, together with Kweku Agyeman Mensah, Alhaji Ziblim Yakubu, Chief Director of the Ministry, Andrew Clocanas, Executive Chairman of Constructora OAS Ghana Limited, and Nouvi Tetteh Angelo, have pleaded not guilty to all 52 charges.

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