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Crime & Punishment of Thursday, 28 February 2008

Source: GNA

Businessman gets eight years for stealing

Accra, Feb. 28, GNA - A 51-year-old businessman who altered a cheque for 100,982 dollars and stole money belonging to Merchant Bank was Thursday sentenced to eight years' imprisonment with hard by an Accra Circuit Court.

Kwaku Owusu Bempah, Chief Executive Officer of Temecular Investment Limited in Accra was found guilty on charges of conspiracy and stealing. Bempah pleaded not guilty to the charges. The court noted that Bempah appended his signature to all the cheques and managed to steal the amount from the bank and his evidence rather exonerated two accomplices. The accomplices Kweku Gyamfi and Abena Gyimah, both at large, were discharged.

Chief Inspector Peter Bene said on March 1, 2006 Bempah, Gyamfi and Abena presented documents to the Adabraka Branch of the Merchant Bank as business partners who wanted to open a foreign account. He said they opened three accounts with a 100,982 dollars cheque from Citibank in New York with the account name Temecula Investments Limited and Bempah being the sole signatory to the account. On March 29, 2006 Bempah began withdrawing money from the account and before July 31 2006, he had exhausted the money. On December 26, 2006 Merchant Bank, Ghana received a fax message from Citibank, New York that the cheque was a stolen one and altered to bear the name of Bempah's company.

The prosecution said as a result, Merchant Bank was compelled to pay the amount as Citibank had credited it to Merchant Bank's accounts. The prosecution said in Bempah's caution statements, he said though two other partners brought him the cheque, he did not know the source. He said it was detected that the cheque was originally issued to Northrop Grumman Com but was altered.

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