A former Chief Executive Officer of Venture Capital Trust Fund (VCTF), Daniel Duku, has reportedly agreed to pay over GH₵15 million to the State in the case in which he and five others have been charged for stealing GH₵42.8 million.
Two others, Irene Anti Mensah, who was an Executive Assistant to Mr Duku, and Frank Aboagye Mensah, Irene’s husband, have also entered into an agreement with the Attorney-General to pay restitution to the State.
The Lands Division of the Accra High Court has, thus, directed the Director of Public Prosecution (PDD) to file the terms of the agreement arrived at in the case.
However, the other accused persons are yet to make known their intentions. They are Richard Lassey Agbenyefia, a former Member of Parliament for Keta and a former member of the Board of Trustees of the Fund; Kofi Sarpong, who was an investment officer of VCTF; and Charity Opoku, also known as Charity Ameyaw, an accountant at VCTF.
Last Friday, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Mrs Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa, told the court that the three accused persons had reached an agreement with the Attorney-General, and therefore the State would like the court to accept the agreement and convict the accused persons as guilty.
Justice Anthony Oppong, the presiding judge, however, said the agreement for restitution had not been fully executed by the accused person and the Attorney General because it had not been signed by the accused persons.
Illegal loan scheme
According to the facts of the case, Mr Duku facilitated the recruitment of Irene and Sarpong, who were his work colleagues at the Ghana Investment Promotion Authority (GIPA).
Upon assumption of office, he introduced a loan scheme, called Development Assistance Fund (DAF), to provide credit directly to individuals and companies, in clear contravention of the VCTF Act and contrary to the objects of the Fund.
Despite the advice of solicitors of VCTF on the illegality of the proposed loan scheme, Mr Duku allegedly managed to obtain the approval of the Board for the establishment of the scheme.
According to the prosecution, Mr Duku, by approval of the Board, could only approve loans not exceeding GH₵30,000. The Board also approved strict guidelines under which the loans were to be disbursed.
An amount of GH₵1million, which was later increased to GH₵2million, was approved by the Board as a revolving fund for the DAF project.
According to the prosecution, investigations have revealed that Mr Duku disbursed various sums of money under the scheme, the total of which far exceeded the approved amount of GH₵2million.
Use of fictitious companies
Prior to the appointment of Mr Duku as CEO, and the establishment of DAF, VCTF operated an existing scheme which gave loans to farmers in the Northern and then Brong-Ahafo regions for the cultivation of sorghum.
This loan scheme, known as the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), gave loans to certain Venture Capital Finance Companies (VCFC), including SINAPI ABA and Techno Serve Company Limited, for onward lending to farmers.
The SPV had a minimum of GH₵50,000 and GH₵500,000 as the maximum amount that could be disbursed at a time to the Venture Capital Finance Companies.
This programme ran successfully until Mr Duku assumed leadership in June 2010 when the project stopped.
However, in or about October 2010, the SPV was reintroduced at the instance of the 1st accused, albeit with Board approval, this time to be controlled directly from the office of the 1st accused. He could, however, only approve loans up to GH₵50,000.
Contrary to, and in flagrant disregard for the approved Board thresholds for the CEO, the 1st accused person persistently approved loans purportedly under DAF and SPV well above his threshold directly to a number of companies some of which were non-existent. Some of these fictitious companies bore addresses which belonged to the 1st accused.
The accused persons used the names of a number of companies belonging to other persons to obtain loans without the knowledge, permission and or consent of the owners of the companies.
The 6th accused, who was at all material times the accountant at VCTF and a signatory to the VCTF account, aided the 1st accused by signing blank cheques to grant loans to some of these companies while on leave.
Some of the cheques were issued even before the purported applications for the loans were received. The 1st accused, using these blank cheques signed by the 6th accused, granted loans totaling GH₵4,240,000, which resulted in a total loss of GH₵12,601,796.25, being principal and accrued interest to the Fund.
The 2nd accused person too obtained loans in the names of companies based on false representations to VCTF without the knowledge, permission or approval of the owners of the companies, whereas in other instances the loans were obtained in the names of non-existent companies.
The 3rd and 4th accused persons, who were responsible for evaluation and processing of loan applications to VCTF, failed to conduct the requisite due diligence on loan applicants, but rather facilitated the grant of loans through falsified records by entering false information on the loan application forms.
It has been established that the 5th accused person used non-existent companies to obtain loans from VCTF and acted together with 1st, 3rd and 4th accused persons to dishonestly appropriate various sums of money from VCTF in the names of these companies.
Source: Daily Statesman