A Principal State Attorney, Ms Stella Ohene Appiah, yesterday asked the Accra High Court to conduct trial in absentia, in the case involving the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC), Mrs Sedina Tamakloe Attionu.
The accused is currently in the United States of America (USA) for medical treatment and the prosecutor asked the court presided over by Justice Afia Serwaa Asare-Botwe, to conduct proceedings in absence.
The court adjourned the case for two weeks for it to determine whether the trial should be conducted in absentia.
This was after Mrs Attionu’s counsel, Mr Agbesi Dzakpasu, told the court he did not have the address of his client in the USA, neither did he know when she would return to Ghana.
The former CEO, who is standing trial for allegedly causing $90 million financial loss to the state, left Ghana for the USA before the court went on legal vacation in 2020, and had since not returned.
Mrs Attionu, charged together with Mr Daniel Axim, a former Operations Manager of MASLOC, for wilfully causing financial loss to the state, stealing, contravention of the public procurement act, pleaded not guilty to the charges when she appeared in court in 2019.
Last year, the court issued a bench warrant for the arrest of the former MASLOC boss when she failed to return for continuation of the case.
It is the case of the Attorney-General (A-G) that MASLOC gave a loan of GH¢500,000 to Obaatanpa Micro-Finance Limited, but the company returned the money because of the high interest that the loan attracted.
According to the A-G, Obaatanpa Limited presented a cheque for GH¢500,000 to Mrs Attionu, but she refused and demanded cash payment.
The A-G further stated that the accused inflated the price of certain items that MASLOC purchased during her tenure, and in some instances signed procurement contracts without approval by the Public Procurement Authority (PPA).
According to the A-G, on December 6, 2016, Mrs Attionu signed a contract with Mac Autos to supply MASLOC with 350 vehicles without any approval by the PPA.
The vehicles, the AG said, included Chevy Sparklite, Isuzu buses and Chevy Aveo and the unit price offered by Mac Autos to MASLOC for the Chevy Aveo was GH¢74,495 ($18,883.39.
However, investigations revealed that the actual retail price Mac Autos offered for the same model within the same year without duty was GH¢47,346.93 ($12,009.91).
BY MALIK SULLEMANA