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Mahama girl grounded on GHC5m bail; passport seized

The former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC) under the erstwhile Mahama administration, Sedina Christine Tamakloe Attionu, was left sweating over a GH¢5 million bail imposed on her yesterday.

Ms Attionu, who is facing 78 charges, including stealing, causing financial loss to the state among others, made her maiden appearance before a packed Accra High Court (Financial and Economic Division) yesterday after she was officially charged last week by the Attorney General’s Department.

The former CEO and Daniel Axim, who is still an Operations Manager at MASLOC, pleaded not guilty to all the 78 charges preferred against them.

Their lawyers took turns to pray the court for bail.

The court, presided over by Justice Afi Serwaa Asare-Botwe, granted Ms. Attionu bail in the sum of GH¢5 million with two sureties.

Mr. Axim, on the other hand, was also granted bail in the sum of GH¢1 million with one surety.

The sureties, according to the court, must be persons of independent and sufficient means who are not the subject of any criminal investigations or persons who have been convicted of any crime.

The two were also ordered to deposit their passports at the court’s registry and must apply to the court any time they need them.

Bail sweat

The bail condition, however, proved to be a hurdle, as the two who have been accused of causing over GH¢93 million financial loss to the state struggled to get sureties at that moment.

More than three hours after the court proceeding, the two were at the court’s registry, as their lawyers and relatives struggled to find persons to stand sureties for them.

NDC gurus

Former Attorney General, Marrieta Brew Appiah-Oppong; former First National Vice Chairman of the NDC, Betty Mould Iddrisu; former Sports Minister, Elvis Afriyie Ankrah; Spokesperson for Mr. Mahama, Joyce Bawah Mogtari, Kwadwo Twum-Boafo and other family and friends were all in court to show solidarity with the former MASLOC Boss.

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Charges

Together, the two are facing 78 counts of charges including conspiracy to steal, stealing, unauthorised commitment, resulting in a financial obligation for the government, improper payment, money laundering and contravention of the Public Procurement Act.

The two accused persons allegedly stole a total amount of GH¢3,198,280 at MASLOC and willfully caused financial loss to the state to the tune of GH¢1,973,780.

Again, Ms. Attionu and her accomplice while in charge of MASLOC allegedly made unauthorized commitments resulting in financial obligations for the government to the tune of GH¢61,735,832.50.

The charges against the two also include GH¢22,158,118.85 loss to public property and improper payment of GH¢273,743.66, as well as money laundering of GH¢3,704,380 while in charge.

Case facts

Per the facts read by the Attorney General, Gloria Afua Akuffo, Ms. Attionu misappropriated an amount of GH¢500,000 of MASLOC money invested in Obaatanpa Micro-Finance Company Limited, which was later withdrawn due to 24% interest demanded.

She said the former MASLOC boss rejected a cheque issued by Obaatanpa covering the money and instead asked that the money be refunded in cash.

Interestingly, Ms. Attionu met the Board Chairman of Obaatanpa at Baatsona Filling Station in Accra in the night and took cash of GH¢500,000 which never went to MASLOC.

According to the AG, investigations revealed that out of the sum of GH¢1,816,000 earmarked for a countrywide sensitisation and monitoring programme for 85,300 beneficiaries of MASLOC loans, only GH¢1,300 was spent on refreshment for some beneficiaries in the Volta, Greater-Accra and Brong-Ahafo Regions and that no programme whatsoever took place in the other seven regions.

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The former MASLCO boss has also been accused of diverting GH¢579,800 out of a GH¢1,465,035 support by government for victims of the Kantamanto Market fire disaster in 2013.

According to the state, Ms. Attionu, without recourse to the Public Procurement Act, 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.

Ms. Gloria Akufo told the court that although MASLCO applied for a tax waiver on the vehicles, Ms. Attionu bloated the unit prices of the vehicles.

The AG said Ms. Attionu, without authorisation or approval, caused to be paid to herself and her deputy, Mustapha Abubakar Batalima, the sum of GH¢135,592.33 and GH¢82,218.76 respectively as ex gratia and another GH¢28,445.94 and GH¢27,486.62 for the two going on leave.

Case management

The court ordered the Attorney General to file all the soft and hard copies of documents the state intends to rely on for the trial by February 15, 2019.

March 4, 2019 has also been set aside for case management to set the rules for the proceedings after which a date will be fixed for the trial.

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