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Crime & Punishment of Friday, 31 October 2014

Source: GNA

Banka Community were beneficiaries of 150,000 dollars

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A legal practitioner has told an Accra Fast Track High Court how he presented a Cheque for 150,000 dollars to the people of Banka through Nana Osabarima Twiampomah III, the chief of the Community.

Mr Wallace Bruce Cathline who works with Minka Premo and Co. Chamber at Labone in Accra admitted knowing Nana Twiampomah through Mr Ebenezer Asare-Quansah one of the chamber’s clients.

Nana Osabarima Twiampomah III, Chief of Banka is being held for allegedly misappropriating $150,000.00 belonging to his community.

The money misappropriated was a lease sum paid by Gulf Coast Resources Limited, a mining company, to the people of Banka after using their land for mining for the past 10 years.

Charged with stealing, 52-year old Nana Twiampomah, pleaded not guilty.

The accused person is currently on bail in the sum GH?50,000.00 with one surety to be justified. The surety deposited a title deed equivalent to the principal sum of $150,000 to the Courts registry.

Nana Twiampomah was also to sign a bond not to travel outside the country until the matter is disposed off.

Led in evidence by Mr Mathew Amponsah, Chief State Attorney, Mr Cathline who presented the cheque on behalf of Gulf Coast Limited to the chief said he got to know the accused person on June 14, 2011.

According to Mr Cathline, on that day Mr Asare-Quansah called him on phone that he wants to bring a cheque to him to be given to the accused person.

At about 10:30am, same day, the witness said he was in the office when his secretary announced that Mr Asare-Quansah and the accused person were around to see him.

Witness said, Mr Asare-Quansah introduced the accused person as the Chief of Banka and produced the cheque and told the accused person in his presence that the money was for the people of Banka.

According to the witness 150,000 dollars was for the development of Banka.

Mr Cathline said to support Mr Asare-Quansah’s claim, he produced a promissory note to support his claim.

Witness said the money was payable through Stanbic Bank.

During their interaction, Nana Twiampomah indicated that the cheque should be his personal use.

“Mr Asare-Quansah was dissatisfied with this and that led to an argument between him and the accused person. Mr Asare –Quansah decided to leave because they could not agree on anything,” the lawyer told the court.

Mr Cathline said before Mr Asare-Quansah left he instructed Mr Cathline) to release the cheque if only the accused person signed for the people of Banka.

The witness said the accused person then stated that he would go to see his lawyer known as Mr Kwame Gyan so he could prepare a receipt for him.

The witness said before Mr Asare-Quansah also instructed that should accused person bring a receipt, and the content read out to him before the money could be released.

Mr Asare-Quansah rejected the content of the receipt saying it indicated that the money was meant for the accused person alone.

Later, witness told the court that the accused person signed the receipt prepared by Mr Asare-Quansah for the people of Banka and the cheque was released to him.

The witness therefore tendered the receipt in court.

Presenting the facts, prosecuting Mr Matthew Amponsah, Chief State Attorney said the complainant was one Nana Yeboah, who is acting on behalf of the people of Banka.

According to prosecution, in 2000, Gulf Coast Resources Limited (GCRL) acquired a mining lease for a period of 10 years from the Minerals Commission to operate gold mining on Banka lands. The mining lease however expired in 2010.

When the lease expired, GCRL wrote a letter to the Minister of Land, Forestry and Natural Resources for the renewal of their mining lease on Banka lands. The community spearheaded by the accused person, vehemently challenged the move.

Mr Amponsah said in a letter dated June 10, 2010, the accused person and the people of Banka petitioned the Ministry of lands, Forestry and Natural Resources, protesting the renewal of the lease because GCRL had failed to fulfill its corporate social responsibility for the past 10 years.

Following this challenge, Mr Amponsah said GCRL entered into negotiations with the accused and the people of Banka. During the said negotiation, the company promised to pay $150,000 to the community as monies for development.

The accused and the people, therefore, in a letter dated on January 13, 2011, withdrew their petition and the mining lease was renewed for another 10 years beginning from 2011.

Mr Amponsah said after the mining lease was renewed, the GCRL paid the $150,000 and transferred their rights to another mining company known as Banka Gold Limited.

Prosecution said GCRL paid the amount as per Stanbic Bank Cheque number 534403 on June 14, 2011 and the accused acknowledged receiving the money and issued a signed receipt on June 14, 2011.

Mr Amponsah said the accused failed to inform his people after receiving the money, and that, despite the several demands by the people over the payment, accused denied receiving the money and as such reported the matter to the Police.

In the accused person’s statement to the Police, he admitted receiving the money, saying the money was for his personal use and not for the community.

The accused person, prosecution explained that, used some of the money to defray his legal expenses when he engaged GCRL in a legal battle.

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