Kessben Re-Arrested

The Suspect Micheal Kwame Aboagye.The Kumasi-based industrialist, Stephen Kwabena Kesse, was yesterday discharged by an Accra Circuit Court of the offences of money laundering and forgery of documents preferred against him by the state.

This followed the decision of the state to withdraw the case, for want of prosecution.

However, information gathered by The Ghanaian Times indicate that the beleaguered business tycoon was re-arrested, moments after the court had discharged him and was later granted bail.

Prosecuting, Principal State Attorney, Mrs. Marina Appiah Opare told the court, presided over by Francis Obiri that the accused had been relieved of all the said charges.

When Mr. Obiri wanted to know why the prosecution did not enter a nolle prosequi under Section 59(1) of Act 30, Mrs. Opare intimated that, she was instructed to withdraw the case.

Considering the application, the presiding judge averred that once it was the prosecution which brought the matter before the court and was seeking  withdrawal, he had no locus to deny it, and ordered that the accused’s passport, which had been deposited with the court registry, be given back to him, within 24 hours.

At the last sitting, the accused was granted bail in the sum of GH¢350 million, with four sureties, two of whom were  to be justified.

The court further ordered the accused to deposit his passport with the court’s registry and report to the investigating unit, every Monday at 12 noon.

Mr. Kesse is accused of facilitating the laundering of 127,931727.65 dollars within 14 months, with the connivance of some Stanbic Bank officials.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Earlier, the court had refused a bail application put in by his counsel and remanded him in police custody to enable the police to continue with their investigations.

However, his counsel, Mr. Carl Adongo submitted that keeping his client in custody would amount to curtailing his liberty, making reference to Article 14(4) of the 1992 Constitution.

He argued that the facts did not support the charges preferred against the accused, and described it as “defective”.

He said the legal basis for their application was premised on the fact that the discretionary power to grant bail lay within the bosom of the judge, whether the charges of money laundering and forgery did not fall under the conditions of bail.

Mr. Adongo added that his client, if  granted bail would not abscond from justice, adding that he was a renowned businessman and employed more than 2,500 people.

“My Lord, many businesses have come to standstill, with the absence of the accused. It is our humble prayer that you use your discretion in our favour to admit him to bail,” he pleaded.

The Presiding Judge, Mr. Obiri, after listening to the argument  concluded that the accused would come to  court when granted bail and accordingly granted the application.

The facts, according to the prosecution, were that between January 2013 and February 2014, the accused allegedly used KESSBEN Shipping, Forwarding and Trading Limited (KSFT) to engage in fraudulent documentation, to facilitate the outward transfer of large volumes of foreign exchange to spurious and phoney addresses, using its .bank accounts with the Stanbic Bank.

Prosecuting, Deputy Superintendent (DSP) Abraham Annor, told the court that intelligence reports revealed that the accused used the shipping company to undertake dubious transfer of monies in foreign exchange for himself and his customers.

He said with the assistance of some workers of Stanbic Bank, the accused forged Bills of Laden and transferred the said amounts to the United States of America, Asia, and Europe within 14 months.

In his application for bail, Mr. Adongo said since the accused had been put before court, it meant that the police had completed their investigations.

“The courts are avenues to ventilate grievances and nip in the bud crimes, and that the courts have constitutional obligations to protect the citizenry from police harassment,” he contended.

By Malik Sullemana 

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