The Chief of Banka in Asante-Akim South District in the Ashanti Region, Osabarima Twiampomah III, appeared before the Accra High Court yesterday, charged with stealing US$150,000 meant for developmental projects in the area.
He was granted bail in the sum GH¢50,000 with one surety to be justified.
The 52-year-old chief pleaded not guilty to the charge and would appear again on April 20.
The alleged stolen money was of a lease sum paid by Gulf Coast Resources Limited, a mining company in the area to the people of Banka for use their land for 10 years.
A witness, Wallace Bruce-Cathline, who works with Minka Premo and Co. Chambers Labone, Accra admitted knowing Nana Twiampomah through Mr. Ebenezer Asare-Quansah, a client of the chamber.
The court heard that a promisory note signed by Mr. E.B Asare-Quansah, Managing Director of Gulf Coast Resources, indicated that the money was meant for the development of the area, and not for the chief.
Mr. Bruce-Cathline per se told the court during cross examination by the accused’s lawyer, Mr. Richard Bobison that, he issued the cheque for the money to the Chief on behalf of the people of the community.
Asked why he did not issue the cheque in the name of the community, Mr. Bruce-Catheline said he did not doubt the sincerity and status of Osabarima Twiampomah.
Led by Mr. Matthew Amponsah, a Chief State Attorney in his evidence-in-chief, Mr. Bruce-Cathline, who presented the cheque to the chief, said he got to know him on June 14, 2011.
He said that day, he held a telephone conversation with Mr Asare-Quansah who asked him to issue the cheque to the chief.
At about 10:30 a.m., the same day, witness said he was in the office when his secretary informed him that Mr. Asare-Quansah and the accused person were around to see him.
“Before issuing the cheque to the chief, Mr. Asare-Quansah introduced him to Mr. Bruce-Cathline, as the Chief of Banka,” Mr. Bruce-Cathline said, to support Mr. Asare-Quansah’s claim.
Witness said the money was payable through Stanbic Bank.
During their interaction, Nana Twiampomah indicated that the cheque should be for his personal use.
“Mr Asare-Quansah was dissatisfied with this and this led to an argument between he and the accused person. Mr. Asare-Quansah decided to leave because they could not agree on anything,” the lawyer told the court.
Mr. Bruce-Cathline said before Mr. Asare-Quansah left, he instructed Mr. Cathline) to release the cheque, if only the accused person signed for it for the people of Banka.
Witness said accused then stated that he would go to see his lawyer, Mr. Kwame Gyan, to prepare a receipt for him.
Following this argument, Mr. Amponsah said the GCRL entered into negotiations with accused and the people of Banka. At the negotiation, the company promised to pay $150,000 to the community for development.
The accused and the people, in a letter dated January 13, 2011, withdrew their petition and the lease was renewed for another 10 years, effective 2011.
Mr. Amponsah said after the lease was renewed, the GCRL paid the $150,000 and transferred their rights to another mining company, Banka Gold Limited.
Prosecution said the GCRL paid the amount as per Stanbic Bank Cheque number 534403 on June 14, 2011 and accused acknowledged receipt and issued a signed receipt for it on June 14, 2011.
Mr. Amponsah said accused however, failed to inform his people after receiving the money, and despite several demands, denied receiving the money. Consequetly, the matter was reported to the police.
By Malik Sullemana