The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has joined the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) in a synchronized effort aimed at delving deep into the matters of former Sanitation Minister, Cecilia Dapaah.
Their joint investigation will touch on assets and financial transactions tied to Ms. Dapaah within the US.
This was revealed in a statement by the Special Prosecutor indicating that his outfit “and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) @USEmbassyGhana have initiated concurrent inquiries into the activities of Cecilia Abena Dapaah, the former Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources, and her associates.”
This cooperative crusade seeks to unravel the legality surrounding the wealth amassed by Ms. Dapaah and her cohorts, traversing the corridors of both Ghana and the United States.
“These investigations primarily focus on examining their assets and financial transactions within the United States of America,” the statement further read.
Earlier, the OSP had charged the embattled former Minister for failing to declare her income and property.
According to the statement of offence filed at the High Court on Friday, October 6, the OSP said Cecilia Dapaah failed to respond to a notice to declare her property served on Monday, July 24, within 30 days as stated in the OSP Act.
The OSP says this is a contravention of the OSP Act and she must be punished for it.
“Cecilia Abena Dapaah, 68 years, August 25, 2023, in Accra in the Greater Accra Region of the Republic of Ghana and within the jurisdiction of this Court, being a suspect under investigation for corruption and corruption-related offences including using public office for profit in respect of suspected tainted large cash sums reportedly stolen from your residential premises and also retrieved from same by the Office of the Special Prosecutor, without lawful excuse, failed, within 30 days, to comply with a notice to declare your property and income served on you by the Special Prosecutor on 24 July 2023 under regulation 20(1) per Forms 1A and 1B of the First Schedule of the Office of the Special Prosecutor (Operations) Regulations, 2018 (L.I. 2374) as specified in regulation 20(2) and Form 21 of the First Schedule of the Ofice of the Special Prosecutor (Operations) Regulations, 2018 (L.I. 2374).”
Meanwhile, lawyers for Cecilia Dapaah have also filed an injunction application against the OSP.
Per the court documents filed on Tuesday, October 10, the lawyers said if the OSP is not retrained, the accused will suffer irreparable damage.
Former Sanitation Minister has strongly contested allegations made by the OSP regarding funds received from a bank account linked to her late brother.
In response to an affidavit filed by the OSP seeking confirmation of a new seizure of funds, Cecilia denied any implication that the monies and assets seized from her residence were of suspicious origin.
The OSP had informed the court that a bank account belonging to the late brother of the former minister was still active and had recently transmitted funds to her account, despite supposed inactivity.
Challenging this assertion, the former Minister clarified that the monies in question were transferred from an account specifically opened to collect funeral donations for her late brother, named ‘The Late Nana Akwasi Essan’, of which she is a signatory.
Additionally, she explained that the funds transferred to her bank account were intended for the payment of fees for her late brother’s children.
The former minister, through a sworn affidavit, emphasized a rather legitimate and non-suspicious nature of the transactions, refuting any allegations of financial impropriety.
In her affidavit, she explained that the said funds “were transferred from Cal Bank from an account in the name of ‘the Late Nana Akwasi Essan’ to which I am a signatory adding that “this account was opened with funeral donations collected by Cal Bank at my late brothers funeral.”
“The correct account name is conspicuously stated in Applicant’s Exhibit OSP18 and the Applicant could easily have ascertained the mandate on the account from Cal Bank. The funds are transferred to me for payment of the school fees of my late brother’s children,” she added.
Two househelps working for Cecilia Abena Dapaah and her husband, Daniel Osei Kuffour are facing charges for allegedly stealing monies and items worth millions of cedis from the couple’s residence at Abelemkpe in Accra.
The accused individuals, 18-year-old Patience Botwe and 30-year-old Sarah Agyei have been charged with conspiracy to commit a crime and five counts of stealing.
The alleged thefts occurred between July and October 2022.
During this period, the house helps allegedly stole personal effects belonging to Madam Cecilia Abena Dapaah, including assorted clothes valued at GH¢95,000, handbags, perfumes, and jewellery worth US$95,000.
Additionally, Ms Botwe is accused of stealing six pieces of Kente cloth worth GH¢90,000 and six sets of men’s suits valued at US$3,000, which belong to the minister’s husband.
Furthermore, three other individuals, identified as Ms Botwe’s current and former boyfriends and her father, are also facing charges for allegedly being involved in the crime. They have been respectively charged with dishonestly receiving GH¢1 million, GH¢180,000, and GH¢50,000.
According to court proceedings, the stolen monies and items belonged to Madam Cecilia Abena Dapaah and her husband, taken from their bedroom in their residence.
The accused individuals were arraigned before an Accra Circuit Court, presided over by Susana Ekuful, on Thursday, July 20, 2023. However, their pleas have not been taken yet.
The court granted bail to Sarah Agyei in the sum of GH¢1 million with two sureties. The sureties are required to deposit their Ghana cards with the court’s registrar. The bail conditions are subject to review by the substantive judge, as Susana Ekuful was serving as a relief judge.
On the other hand, Ms Botwe, along with her alleged boyfriends and father, have been remanded into lawful custody.
The complainants reported the theft case to the police in June 2023 after discovering the missing cash and personal effects.
Ms Botwe was caught red-handed entering the couple’s room with a duplicate key, leading to her arrest.
Further investigations revealed that Patience, with the help of her alleged accomplice Sarah, had hidden the stolen money and used it to purchase properties and expensive items.
This information got Ghanaians talking with many asking CHRAJ, the OSP and the Ghana Police Service to investigate the source of the money.
Subsequently, the Special Prosecutor announced that his office was investigating the matter, starting with the arrest of Madam Cecilia Dapaah.
Meanwhile, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has appointed the Minister of State at the Presidency and Member of Parliament for Tano North, Freda Prempeh, to take over as Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources since the resignation of Madam Cecilia Dapaah from office.
More arrests, more houses
During the trial of the suspects in the theft case, the Ghana Police Service said three more persons have been arrested in addition to the four people standing trial in the theft case involving former Sanitation Minister, Cecilia Dapaah.
This follows the amendment of the previous charge sheet based on the advice of the Attorney General.
The accused list now comprised Patience Botwe, 18, hairdresser; Sarah Agyei, 30, unemployed, Benjamin Sowah, 29, plumber, Malik Dauda, 34, unemployed, Christiana Achab, a trader, Job Pomary, a mechanic, and Yahaya Sumaila, an excavator operator.
They have, together, been slapped with 14 counts comprising of conspiracy, five counts of stealing and 8 counts of dishonestly receiving.
According to the facts of the case against the three new suspects, Christiana Achab, who is a trader and Job Pomary, a mechanic, they are said to have received an amount of Three Hundred Thousand Ghana cedis (GH¢300,000.00) from Patience Botwe, the house help of Cecilia Dapaah in 2023.
In that same year, Christiana Achab is said to have dishonestly received another amount of Eight Hundred Thousand Ghana cedis from Patience.
She is also said to have received a further Three Hundred Thousand Ghana cedis. This was different from a previous Three Hundred Thousand cedis, Christian and Franklin (who is at large) received in 2022.
For Yahaya Sumaila, an excavator operator, he is said to have received Eight Hundred thousand Ghana cedis together with Christiana in 2023.
The police further revealed that Christiana Achab who received over GH¢2 million of the stolen money, purchased an eleven-unit chamber and hall self-contain house at Budumburam at the cost of GH¢800,000 for herself.
She is also alleged to have purchased a three-bedroom house at Aplaku at the cost of GH¢300,000 for Patience Botwe.
Also, Christiana Achab and Job Pomary allegedly purchased a four-bedroom house at Kokrobite at the cost of GH¢280,000 for Christiana.
Christiana Achab is further accused of contacting Yahaya Sumaila, and purchased a three-bedroom self-contain house at Amrahia at the cost of GH¢850,0000 in the name of Yahaya Sumaila.
In addition to the houses, she also purchased two Honda Acura vehicles at the cost of GH¢300,000 each registered in the name of Franklin Sarakpo, and Patience Botwe.
SOURCE: JOYNEWS online