Crime & Punishment of Friday, 25 July 2014
An Accra Circuit Court has fined Nana Kwadwo Ofosu Ayeh, a Ghanaian businessman, Gh¢240,000 or in default three years imprisonment in hard labour for forgery and defrauding an Indian businessman.
The court also ordered Ayeh, the Chief Executive Officer of Europa Pee Company Ltd, to pay $220,000 to the complainant, Mr Mir Parveez Zia, the Director of Leela Trade Steel & Commodities Ltd based in India.
Ayeh had been charged with three counts of defrauding by false pretences contrary to Section 131 of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29), forgery of official documents contrary to Section 158 of Act 29, and forgery of other documents contrary to Section 159 of Act 29.
Passing sentence, the court, presided over by Mr Justice Seyram Y. Azumah, said there was no doubt that the conduct of Ayeh had the potential of scaring foreign investors from doing business with genuine Ghanaian businessmen and women.
“In view of this, the accused must be given a sentence to deter him and others who want to embark on this type of conduct,” it said.
The prosecution had told the court that in December 2010, Mr Zia entered into an agreement with Ayeh who promised to supply his (Zia’s) company with 30 containers of metal scrap at the cost of $220,000 and that per that agreement; Ayeh was enjoined to bear all the shipping charges.
It said Ayeh gave Mr Zia some documents alleged to have originated from the Ghana Chamber of Commerce and SGS Ghana Ltd, respectively, covering the exportation of 30 containers of metal scrap to the complainant.
The prosecution said having been convinced of those documents; Mr Zia transferred $220,000 into the bank account of Ayeh’s company. It said in July 2011, Ayeh exported five containers of metal scrap worth $24,150 to the complainant but he (Ayeh) failed to pay the additional shipping delivery charges of $32,000.
Following the failure of Ayeh to honour his promise, Mr Zia reported the matter to the police, and in the course of police investigations, it was discovered that some of the shipping documents Ayeh sent to the complainant covering the 25 containers of scrap were forged and used as a bait to lure the complainant to pay the $220,000 to Ayeh.
While acknowledging that Ayeh had a company which was duly registered under the laws of Ghana, the court noted: “What is, however, manifestly clear on the evidence before the court is that the accused’s company existed only on paper”.
“This court is, therefore, of the view that the accused’s supposed company, Europa Pee Company Ltd, is a sham,” it stated, adding that the court, therefore, accepted the evidence of the complainant that he dealt with Ayeh personally.