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.
A fourth accused person, Joseph Nyanor, was acquitted and discharged during the trial after his lawyers filed a submission of ‘no case’.
Bernard Sallah, alias Big Ben, who was also accused, was set free by the court, presided over Mr Justice John Ajet-Nasam, after the full trial.
The five were all charged with one count of conspiracy to commit crime, namely, stealing, contrary to sections 23 (1) and 124 (1) of 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 was charged with one count of stealing, whereas Bagigah faced 15 counts of forgery.
Facts of the case
The facts of the case are 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 his account purporting to come from the TOR account at the Ghana Commercial Bank (GCB), now known and called GCB Bank Limited, 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’s cheques.
He mentioned Sallah as a member of the syndicate who assisted him to open a number of accounts with various banks where the money drawn on TOR account at the GCB Bank had been lodged and withdrawn.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 Bank revealed that a number of unauthorised withdrawals had been made from its accounts at the bank.
Investigations revealed that the withdrawals had been made on the TOR account through 15 TOR cheque leaflets.
Those leaflets, it was revealed, had come from a GCB TOR cheque book with serial numbers ranging from 003801 to 003850.
Investigations further revealed that the cheque book was one of 50 GCB cheque books signed for TOR and collected by Mr Joseph Nyanor, who used to be a cashier at the company.
Mr Nyanor collected those cheque books from the GCB some time around the end of May 2007 but failed to hand over same to the Chief Accountant of TOR for safe-keeping, as had been the practice in the company.
According to the prosecution, the cheque books were still in the custody of the cashier when it was revealed that leaflets from one of them, with the serial numbers 003801-003850, had been used to withdraw money from the company’s account and same could not be accounted for.
Investigations also revealed that the group recruited Bagigah, who had a flair for forging signatures, to forge the signatures of the General Manager, Finance, and the Deputy Managing Director, both of TOR, who were signatories to the TOR account.
In all, GH¢623,030.20 was dishonestly appropriated from the TOR account, with various amounts being withdrawn by various members of the syndicate.
In his statement to the police, Afari mentioned the names of all the accused persons, together with Sampson Omerua, Lexandrou Helen Hajia and Alhaji Nigeria, as members of the syndicate.
They are all on the run.