The Accra High Court has cautioned Daniel Axim, an official of the Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC), who is standing trial together with a former CEO of MASLOC, Sedina Tamakloe Attionu, on allegations of causing financial loss to the state.
The court, presided over by Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe, cautioned Axim today (Tuesday, July 30, 2019) for failing to show up during the last hearing on July 15.
Justice Asare -Botwe said she will not hesitate to rescind Axim’s bail if he fails to show up for the trial
“If anyone attempts to abstain him or herself from a criminal trial, I will take it that the person has breached his bail conditions and I will apply the law,” Justice Botwe said.
To ensure that Axim does not leave the country, the court varied his bail conditions by ordering him to report to the police every Monday
On July 15, the court issued a bench warrant for the arrest of Axim when he failed to show up during the trial
At today’s hearing, Axim was in court.
His lawyer , Mr Augustines Obour, pleaded with the court to forgive his client.
He explained that on that day, he was in court with his client but was told the the trial did not take place.
Attionu has pleaded not guilty to 78 counts of causing financial loss to the state, stealing, contravention of the public procurement act, among other charges, while Axim has also pleaded not guilty conspiring with Mrs Attionu to allegedly cause financial loss to the state.
Case of the Prosecution
The Attorney’s General’s Department (A-G) has a litany of allegations against Attionu and Axim in the facts that accompanied the charge sheet filed at the court.
For instance, it accused Mrs Attionu of embezzling GH¢500,000 that was paid by a company which benefitted from MASLOC support in 2014.
It is the case of the A-G that MASLOC gave a loan of GH¢500,000 to the company, Obaatanpa Micro-finance Limited, but the company returned the money because of the high interest of 24 per cent that the loan attracted.
According to the A-G, Obaatanpa Limited presented a cheque for GH¢500,000 to Attionu, but she refused and demanded cash payment.
“A cash amount of GH¢500,000 was delivered to the first accused person (Attionu) by the Board Chairman of Obaatanpa in the night of 28th August, 2014 at the Baatsona Total Filling Station located on the Spintex Road in Accra.
“By a letter dated 28th August, 2014, the first accused (Attionu) acknowledged receipt of the refund. Investigations subsequently showed that MASLOC had no record of the amount having been paid to it and that Attionu had appropriated the amount of GH¢500,000,” the A-G said.
Another accusation by the A-G is that in April 2016, the MASLOC’s board approved a sum of GH¢1.7 million to be used for nationwide sensitisation for 85,300 MASLOC beneficiaries, but Attionu and Axim withdrew GH¢1.82 million from MASLOC’s accounts for the sensitisation programme.
“Investigations revealed that out of the sum of GH¢1.82 million, only GH¢1,300 was spent on refreshment for some beneficiaries in the Volta, Greater Accra and Brong Ahafo regions and that no programme whatsoever took place in the other seven regions.
“Investigations also revealed that prior to the board’s approval, the first accused person (Attionu) had appropriated GH¢246,280 meant for training, sensitisation and financial literacy,’’ the A-G said.
Kantamanto fire support
It is also the case of the AG that in 2013, following a fire disaster at the Kantamanto Market, then President John Mahama directed MASLOC to provide assistance of GH¢1.46 million to victims of the disaster but Attionu embezzled part of the money.
“The money was, however, to be disbursed through Dwadifo Adamfo Savings and Loans Company Limited (Dwadifo Adamfo). Investigations showed that the first accused person (Attionu) appropriated GH¢579,800 out of the GH¢1.46 million,” the A-G said.
Alleged procurement breaches
The A-G further stated that Attionu inflated the price of certain items that MASLOC purchased during her tenure, and in some instances signed procurement contracts without approval from the Public Procurement Authority (PPA).
According to the AG, on December 6, 2016, Attionu signed a contract with Mac Autos to supply MASLOC with 350 vehicles without any approval from the PPA.
The vehicles, the AG said, included Chevy Sparklite, Isuzu buses and Chevy Aveo.
“The unit price offered by Mac Autos to MASLOC for the Chevy Aveo was GH¢74,495 ($18,883.39).
However, investigations revealed that the actual retail price Mac Autos offered for the same model within the same year without duty was GH¢47,346.93 ($12,009.91).
“The unit price offered for the Chevy Sparklite was GH¢65,095 ($16,500.63) when the actual price offered by Mac Autos within that same period without duty was GH¢35,918.37 ($9,104.77).
For the Isuzu 33 seater buses, the unit price offered to MASLOC was GH¢445,560 ($112,942.96) but the actual retail price without duty was GH¢293,877.55 ($74,493.67),’’ the A-G said.
Again, the A-G accused Attionu of inflating the price of 200 pieces of mobile phones that MASLOC had bought for a project in November 2016 known as PINCO Project Market Survey.
“Investigations revealed that although the actual open market price of the phones was GH¢24,400, the first accused person (Attionu) purchased them at the inflated price of GH¢93,412,’’ the A-G added.