It has emerged that the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) has arrested Daniel Osei Kuffuor, husband of former Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources, Cecilia Dapaah, as a result of the substantial funds found in the home of the couple.
Mr. Kuffuor, who is an architect, is said to have been arrested together with his wife and released on the OSP’s enquiry bail while investigations continue into the source and ownership of the $1 million and €300,000 said to have been stolen from the couple’s bedroom between July and October 2022.
This came to light yesterday when Justice Edward Twum, sitting in the Financial and Economic Division of the Accra High Court, enquired from an attorney from the Office of the Special Prosecutor as to why Madam Dapaah was the only person arrested when the said funds were found in the couple’s bedroom.
The court made the enquiry after it finished taking submissions from the attorney and counsel for Madam Dapaah regarding an application filed by the OSP seeking confirmation of the seizure of $590,000 and GH¢2.730,000 found in the couple’s home as well as the confirmation of the freezing of seven bank accounts belonging to the former minister.
Dr. Isidore Tuffuor, an Attorney at the Office of the Special Prosecutor, told the court that Mr. Kuffuor was also under arrest and was granted bail just as his wife.
This came as surprise to Victoria Barth, counsel for Madam Dapaah, who told the court that it was a new information, as she was not aware Mr. Kuffuor was ever arrested by the OSP.
She told the court that Madam Dapaah, who was sitting with her monitoring the virtual court sitting as a result of the legal vacation, had indicated that she was not aware her husband was under arrest.
The Attorney General (AG) has directed the police to broaden their investigations to include money laundering and other financial crimes to cover Madam Dapaah and her husband in view of the large sums of money they reported to have been stolen from their home given that Madam Dapaah until recently was a high level public official while her husband has indicated to the police he is an architect.
The AG, in his advice following a review of the case docket forwarded to his Office by the police, among others, called on the police to further investigate the ownership and source of the US$200,000 and €300,000 said to have been stolen from the couple’s bedroom.
The police on July 24, 2023, forwarded the case docket on Madam Dapaah’s housemaids and others to the Attorney General for advice regarding the charges levelled against the accused persons, among others.
The Attorney General, following a review of the docket, has also called for further investigation into US$800,000 belonging to Madam Dapaah’s deceased brother and the GH¢300,000 contribution towards her mother’s funeral contained in a box, and a bag that was stolen to ascertain the true ownership of the $800,000, and the source(s) from which the established owner of the $800,000 acquired the money.
…As Her Fate Hangs Over Funds
Meanwhile, the Financial and Economic Division of the High Court in Accra will on August 31, 2023, decide whether or not to confirm the seizure of funds found and seized by officers of the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) at the couple’s residence.
The court presided over by Justice Edward Twum would on that day also decide whether to confirm the freezing of seven bank accounts belonging to the former minister, which the OSP alleges contain tainted funds.
While the OSP is pushing for the court to confirm the seizure of the $590,000 and GH¢2,730,000 found at Madam Dapaah’s Abelemkpe residence in Accra, her lawyer is urging the court to dismiss the application which she describes as an act seeking to “perpetrate the arbitrary exercise of powers based on nothing more than suspicion fuelled by misrepresentation of facts and resultant media frenzy.”
The OSP arrested the former minister on July 24, 2023, for corruption and corruption-related offences after criminal proceedings were initiated against her housemaids who allegedly stole a total of $1 million, GH¢300,000 and €300,000 from her home between July and October 2022.
The OSP has administratively frozen seven bank accounts of the former minister at both Prudential Bank Limited and Societe Generale, which are said to contain substantial amounts of Ghana Cedis and other foreign currencies.
As a result, the OSP filed an application before an Accra High Court seeking to confirm the seizure of the monies at her home as well as the freezing of the accounts pending further investigation into the true ownership and source of the monies.
Moving the motion yesterday, Dr. Isidore Tuffuor said so far facts reveal that the ownership of the monies remain in dispute even though they were found in Madam Dapaah’s possession.
He said the seizure was made under Section 32(1) of the OSP Act on ground that the former Minister during preliminary investigations could not provide any reasonable justification on how she came to be in possession of the monies which are suspected to be tainted.
He told the court which sat virtually as a result of the legal vacation that “it was necessary for the Special Prosecutor to exercise the power of seizure to prevent the concealment of the amount.”
Regarding the freezing of the accounts, Dr. Tuffuor said it is justified under Section 38(1) of Act 959 which gives power to the Special Prosecutor to freeze any property which is necessary to facilitate investigation, and the standard required at this stage is just a mere suspicion and there is no requirement to provide any grounds for the freezing of the accounts.
The application was opposed by Victoria Barth, counsel for Madam Dapaah, who argued that it was brought in contravention of the very statutory provisions that the OSP purports to rely on in invoking the court’s jurisdiction.
She said contrary to Section 32(2) of Act 959, the application for confirmation of seizure of suspected tainted property has been brought out of time and Act 959 unlike C.I 47 (High Court Civil Procedure Rules), the court has no authority to grant the OSP immunity from its breach of Section 32(2) of Act 959 as doing so will amount to exercising excess jurisdiction.
Ms. Barth argued that the mere fact of an investigation against Madam Dapaah for a broadly described offence of corruption is not sufficient under Section 40(1) of Act 959 to ground the confirmation of a freezing order, as the said provision requires the OSP to demonstrate reasonable grounds for believing that the property is tainted property and not just a mere assertion of the fact.
“We are relying on the deposition in our affidavit in opposition which speaks to the calibre and work history of the respondent and her spouse among other facts,” she added while urging the court to dismiss the application.
Justice Twum adjourned the case to August 31 to give a decision on the application.
Source:flyfmghana.com/Gibril Abdul Razak