Former CEO, Operations Manager of MASLOC put before court for causing GH¢7million financial loss

former MASLOC CEO Sedina

former MASLOC CEO Sedina

Sedina Christine Tamakloe Attionu, a former Chief Executive Officer of the Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC), has been dragged to the Accra High Court,  for  alleged stealing and willfully causing more than GH¢7 million financial loss to the state.

She and Daniel Axim, a former Operations Manager of MASLOC have been slapped with 80 counts of conspiracy to commit crime, causing loss to public property, improper payment of public funds, contravention of Public Procurement Act, and money laundering.

Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa, the Director of Public Prosecutions who filed the case on January 30, said the two committed the alleged infractions between 2013 and 2017.

She said in 2017, the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) conducted investigations into certain fraudulent disbursement of MASLOC funds involving the accused.

According to her, investigations revealed that in June 2014, MASLOC invested a sum of GH¢150,000 in Obaatanpa Micro-Finance Company Limited (Obaatanpa), a licensed Tier II microfinance company located at Ejura in the Ashanti Region.

The prosecutor said that accused offered Obaatanpa a further investment of GH¢500,000 and as a result, a MASLOC Agricultural Development Bank (adb) cheque dated July 24,  2014 of GH¢500,000 was drawn in favour of Obaatanpa.

Prosecution stated that soon after Obaatanpa received the MASLOC cheque, Attionu informed the Board Chairman of Obaatanpa, that the investment of GH¢500,000 would attract 24 per cent interest but Obaatanpa decided to return the amount to MASLOC since the interest rate being demanded by the accused was too high and unprofitable for its business and issued a cheque in refund of the loan amount.

According to the prosecutor, the former MASLOC boss, upon presentation of the cheque, declined to accept the cheque and demanded cash refund.

It said that a cash of GH¢500,000 was delivered to Madam Attionu by the Board Chairman of Obaatanpa on the night of August 28, 2014 at the Baatsona Total Filling Station located on the Spintex Road in Accra.

Mrs Obuobisa said in 2015, MASLOC made demands on Obaatanpa for the payment of interest on the principal investment of GH¢500,000.

But in response to the demands, Obaatanpa told MASLOC that the demand was unjustified.

The Director of Public Prosecutions said in 2017, upon the assumption of office of a new Chief Executive of MASLOC, a demand notice was again sent to Obaatanpa for the payment of accrued interest on the same GH¢500,000 whereupon Obaatanpa once again informed MASLOC that the money had already been refunded since 2014.

She said investigations revealed that MASLOC had no record of the amount having been paid to it and that Mrs Attionu had appropriated the GH¢500,000.

Prosecutions says investigations  revealed that in April 2016, the first accused person obtained approval of the MASLOC Board to utilise the sum of GH¢1,706,000 of MASLOC funds for a countrywide sensitisation and monitoring programme for 85,300 beneficiaries of MASLOC loans.

She stated that each of the 85,300 beneficiaries was to receive GH¢20 to cover transportation and refreshment.

The court heard that between April and December 2016, upon the instructions of the Mrs Attionu, GH¢1,816,000 withdrawn in tranches, was received by the first and second accused even though approval had been given by the MASLOC Board for a sum of GH¢1,706,000.

She said investigations revealed that out of the sum of GH¢1,816,000 only GH¢1,300 was spent on refreshment for some beneficiaries in the Volta, Greater-Accra and Brong-Ahafo Regions only and that no programme whatsoever took place in the other seven regions.

The prosecutor said investigations also revealed that prior to the Board’s approval, the first accuse also appropriated GH¢246,280 meant for training, sensitisation and financial literacy.

It is the case of DPP that in 2013, following a fire disaster at the Kantamanto Market, the then President John Mahama directed MASLOC to provide an assistance of GH¢1,465,035 to victims of the fire disaster.

The money was however to be disbursed through Dwadifo Adamfo Savings and Loans Company Limited (DwadifoAdamfo), but investigations showed that Mrs Attionu appropriated GH¢579,800 out of the sum of GH¢1,465,035.

Investigations also showed that in August 2016, the first accused wrote to the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) for approval to procure vehicles from Mac Autos and Spare Parts Ltd (Mac Autos) for the GPRTU using the single source method under the Public Procurement Act.

In October 2016, the PPA wrote back to MASLOC requesting MASLOC to furnish it with financial arrangement approved by the Ministry of Finance.

On December 5, 2016, the then Minister of Finance wrote to the PPA to confirm financial arrangements which were being put in place for the purchase of vehicles.

The prosecutor said that without any approval from PPA, Mrs Attionu signed a contract with Mac Autos on December 6, 2016 to supply MASLOC with 350 vehicles comprising  150 Chevy Aveo Saloon, 100 Chevy Sparklite and 33 Seater Isuzu buses.

The court heard that MASLOC applied for a tax waiver on all the vehicles.

It said 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 offered for the same model within the same year without duty was GH¢47,346.93 ($12,009.91).

The prosecutor submitted that the unit price offered for the Chevy Sparklite was GH¢ 65,095.00 ($16,500.63) when the actual price offered by Mac Autos within that same period without duty was GH¢35,918.37 ($9,104.77).

BY MALIK SULLEMANA

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