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General News of Saturday, 23 February 2019

Source: Graphic.com.gh

Investigator of alleged $4 million NCA scandal testifies in court

The investigator of the alleged $4 million National Communications Authority (NCA) scandal has told the Accra High Court that one of the accused persons, Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie, admitted during interrogations that all the accused persons benefitted financially from the deal.

Detective Chief Inspector Michael Nkrumah testified that Baffoe-Bonnie, a former Board Chairman of the NCA, made the said statement when he (Baffoe-Bonnie) and two other accused persons William Tevie, a former Director-General of the NCA and Alhaji Salifu Mimina Osman, a former Deputy National Security Coordinator, were invited for questioning at the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI).

According to him, it was based on the statement by the former Board Chairman that the accused persons were charged with the offence of conspiracy to steal and stealing.

Detective Inspector Nkrumah made the comments during his evidence-in-chief last Thursday at the court, presided over by Mr Justice Eric Kyei Baffour, as the sixth prosecution witness.

Not guilty

Baffoe Bonnie, Tevie, Nana Owusu Ensaw, a former board member of the NCA; Alhaji Osman and a businessman, George Derek Oppong, are standing trial for their alleged involvement in the embezzlement of $4 million of state funds in the purchase of listening devices for the National Security, which was sponsored by the NCA.

The accused persons have been charged with diverse counts of wilfully causing financial loss to the state, stealing, conspiracy, money laundering, among other offences.

They have pleaded not guilty to all the charges and are currently on bail in the sum of $1 million each.

“No copies of contracts at NCA”

Led by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Mrs Yvonne Attakorah-Obuobisa, Detective Chief Inspector Nkrumah further informed the court that during his investigations, Oppong presented two contracts to the BNI as the contracts covering the purchase of the listening devices.

One of the contracts, he said, was signed by Tevie on behalf of the NCA and Oppong on behalf of Inferlocks Development Limited (IDL), the local agent of NSO Technology Group Limited, the Israeli company that manufactures the equipment, while the other contract was signed by Oppong and a representative of NSO.

He, however, told the court that his checks revealed that the NCA did not have copies of the two contracts.

The Director of Legal at the NCA, he said, also informed him that although Tevie signed the contract on behalf of the NCA, the contract did not meet NCA standard because no one witnessed it.

“Further investigations also revealed that the Board did not approve the contract that Tevie signed on behalf of the NCA, and also there was no procurement process to select IDL to supply the equipment,” he added.

Hearing continues on February 26, 2019.

Prosecution’s fact

The previous government, the prosecution said, had contracted an Israeli company, NSO Group Technology Limited, to supply listening equipment at a cost of $6 million to enable the authorities to monitor conversations of persons suspected to be engaged in terror activities.

A local agent, Infraloks Development Limited, charged $2 million to facilitate the transaction, bringing the total sum to $8 million.

The facts said National Security did not have the money to fund the transaction and for that reason, the NCA, which had supervisory jurisdiction over the use of such equipment, was asked to fund the project.

It added that $4 million was withdrawn from the account of the NCA, while $1 million out of the withdrawn amount was deposited into the account of the Israeli company.

According to the prosecution, the remaining $3 million was lodged in the account of Oppong, who acted as a representative of the local agents, Infraloks Development Ltd.

The prosecution alleged that Osman fronted for the entire deal.

The accused persons were alleged to have later laundered the amount for their private benefit.