SIM Box prosecution witness at large

The absence of the second prosecution witness in the SIM Box fraud case of Dr. Alexander Kofi Tweneboa, former boss of the Ghana Real Estate Development Association (GREDA), forced the financial division of the Accra Fast Track High Court to adjourn to April 22, yesterday.

The witness, a staff of the National Communications Authority had agreed to appear before the court, but when the case was called, the State Prosecutor, told it that they had not heard from the witness and were therefore, doing everything possible to get him.

The court, presided over by Mrs. Efia Serwaa Asare-Botwe consequently adjourned the case and ordered prosecution to quickly get witness.

At the last sitting on April 1, the first prosecution witness Theophilus Botchway, a fraud prevention officer of Vodafone Ghana, was discharged after defence counsel completed cross-examining him.

During the cross-examination, counsel for the accused, Fiifi Abban, sought to know how the experts arrived at the $900,000, loss his client was alleged to have caused the state as a result of his involvement in the fraudulent act.

He averred that since witness had indicated that the investigations took a while before they arrived at their conclusion, his client should not have been arrested for being a fraudster.

However, witness responded that four sim cards of different telecommunication companies found in the SIM Box were all taken into account, and the subsequent calculations worked up to the $900.000.

For the other question, Botchway said he was not in the position to answer, since he did not cause the arrest of the accused.

The accused is facing three counts of offence in an amended writ of summons, filed before the court on March 12.

The charges, were providing electronic communication service without licence, possessing illegal devices, contrary to section 135 of the Electronic Transaction Act and knowingly obstructing and interfering with the sending, transmission, delivery and reception of communication, contrary to the Electronic Communications Act.

Dr. Tweneboah has pleaded not guilty to all the three counts.

The facts of the case as presented by Stella Ohene Appiah, a State Attorney, were that, on January 15, 2015, a joint Anti-fraud Task Force of the National Communications Authority, the Ghana Police and Telecom operators embarked on an operation at House No.A9, Manet Cottage, Spintex Road.

A search of a room used as an office, led to the discovery of one sim cap box equipment, internet modems, antenna and large quantities of sim cards of the various telecom service providers.

According to the State Attorney, upon retrieval of the equipment, the caretaker of the house mentioned the accused person, Alexander Kofi Tweneboa, as the owner of the house and the one who used that office.

Kofi Tweneboa upon his arrest, admitted ownership of the equipment and told the police that he was introduced to the sim Box activity when his business took a nose dive due to the economic situation in the country.

It came to light that even though the accused claimed to have been in the sim box business for about two months, he had been in the illegal operation for not less than six months.

The State Attorney added that the total revenue loss to the state and the service providers over the period amounted to $919,296.

Dr. Tweneboah is currently on bail.

By Edem Mensah-Tsotorme       

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