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General News of Friday, 1 February 2019


Mahama girl charged with stealing GH¢93m

The former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC) under the erstwhile Mahama administration, Sedina Christine Tamakloe Attionu, has been charged with causing GH¢93,044,134.66 financial loss to the state.

Charged along with the former Mahama appointee is Daniel Axim, who was the former Operations Manager at MASLOC under whose watch the alleged misuse of public funds took place.

The two are facing a total of 80 counts, including conspiracy, 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 would be put before court on the charge of stealing a total amount of GH¢3,198,280 during their tenure at MASLOC and willfully causing financial loss to the state to the tune of GH¢1,973,780.

Again, Ms. Attionu and her accomplice, according to the facts, made unauthorized commitments at MASLOC, resulting in financial obligations of GH¢61,735,832.50 to the government.

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.

The charges preferred by the state against the two follow the conclusion of investigations by the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) into fraudulent disbursement of MASLOC funds during their tenure.

The two are expected to be dragged before court on Monday, February 4, 2019, for the charges to be formally read to them and their pleas taken.

Facts of the Case

According to the facts of the case, which have been filed at the registry of the Criminal Division of an Accra High Court, Ms. Attionu misappropriated an amount of GH¢500,000 of MASLOC funds invested in Obaatanpa Micro-Finance Company Limited (Obaatanpa), a licenced Tier II microfinance company, which was later withdrawn due to the high interest demanded.

“In 2017, upon the assumption of office of a new Chief Executive of MASLOC, a demand notice was again sent to Obaatanpa for the payment of accrued interest on the same investment sum of GH¢500,000 whereupon Obaatanpa once again informed MASLOC that the money had already been refunded since 2014. Investigations subsequently showed that MASLOC had no record of the amount having been paid to it and that the 1st accused person (Ms Attionu) had appropriated the amount of GH¢500, 000,” the facts said.

According to the state, investigations further revealed that in April 2016, Ms. Attionu obtained approval of the MASLOC Board to utilize GH¢1,706,000 of MASLOC funds for a country-wide sensitisation and monitoring programme for 85,300 beneficiaries of MASLOC loans.

Each of the targeted 85,300 beneficiaries was to receive GH¢20 to cover transportation and refreshment.

Between April and December 2016, on the authority of the 1st accused person, a total sum of GH¢1,816,000 withdrawn in tranches, was received by the 1st and 2nd accused persons even though approval had been given by the MASLOC Board for a sum of GH¢1,706,000.

Again, investigations revealed that out of the sum of GH¢1,816,000 only GH¢1,300 was spent on refreshment for some beneficiaries in the Volta, Greater Accra and Brong-Ahafo regions only and that no programme whatsoever took place in the other seven regions,” according to the charge sheet.

The former MASLOC 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 cars, 100 Chevy Sparklite and 33-seater Isuzu buses.

It said although MASLOC applied for a tax waiver on the vehicles, she bloated the unit price of the Chevy Aveo from GH¢47,346.93 ($12,009.91) to GH¢74,495 ($18,883.39) and GH¢65,095.00 ($16,500.63) instead of GH¢35,918.37 ($9,104.77) for the Chevy Sparklite.

“For the Isuzu 33-seater buses the unit price offered to MASLOC was GH¢445,560 ($112,942.96) but the actual retail price without duty was GH¢293,877.55 ($74,493.67),” according to the facts of the case.

The former Mahama appointee also bloated the price of a Samsung mobile phone purchased under a project called PINCO Market Survey from GH¢24,400 to a massive GH¢93,412.

Finally, without authorisation or approval from the board, Ms. Attionu 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 to the two for going on leave.