Dr. Kwabena Duffuor and Dr. Johnson Pandit Asiama
Lawyers for former Finance Minister Dr. Kwabena Duffuor, who was the founder of uniBank Ghana Limited, and eight others were yesterday left begging at an Accra High Court for a reduction in the GH¢100 million bail granted their clients by the court.
The accused persons are before the court for their alleged ‘dishonest’ spending of over GH¢5.7 billion belonging to customers and investors of the insolvent private bank which is now defunct.
Among the accused persons charged is the former 2nd Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Dr. Johnson Pandit Asiama, under whose watch over GH¢450 million was allegedly doled out to uniBank without following laid-down procedures, according to the Attorney-General’s Department.
The court presided over by Justice Bright Mensah, a Court of Appeal judge sitting with additional responsibilities, had granted the accused persons bail of GH¢100 million each with three sureties, two of whom must be justified.
However, the lawyers, right after the decision of the judge, began to beg him to reconsider his decision as none of the accused persons would be able to meet the condition set by the court.
Dr. Dominic Ayine, a former Deputy Attorney-General (A-G) who is counsel for Dr. Duffuor, was the first to raise concern about the bail condition which he said was tantamount to the court refusing to grant the accused persons bail.
Another defence lawyer, Nana Agyei Baffuor Awua, who represents Benjamin Ofori, one of the accused, also pleaded with the court to reconsider the bail, saying the conditions are so strict that it would be very difficult for his client to meet them.
Lawyers for the other seven accused persons also expressed similar sentiments and pleaded with the court to review the bail and if possible take away the condition of justification.
Attorney-General Gloria Akuffo, who led the prosecution, when asked by the court of her position on the plea to review the bail terms, said the state maintains its position that the bail terms must commiserate with the charges preferred against the nine officials.
The court then reviewed the bail condition from GH¢100 million to GH¢60 million each but maintained the three sureties, two of whom must be justified.
The sureties were also to deposit their title deeds with the registrar of the court, while the accused persons were also ordered to deposit their passports with the court registrar.
The lawyers were still not satisfied with the condition and again pleaded with the court to review it once more.
Justice Mensah, however, said he could not review his own decision for a second time in one sitting, urging the lawyers to formally file an application for variation of the bail terms if they wish so.
Dr. Duffuor, Dr. Asiama, Kwabena Duffuor II, Ekow Nyarko Dadzie-Dennis, Elsie Dansoa Kyereh, Jeffrey Amon, Benjamin Ofori, and Kwadwo Opoku Okoh are facing a total of 68 charges, including fraudulent transactions and money laundering but they have all pleaded not guilty to the charges.
It was the argument of Dr. Ayine, counsel for Dr. Duffuor that the charges against the accused persons are ‘grossly misconceived’ and have no legal basis.
He said the predominant charge running through the allegations is that there is a trust relationship between the bank and the customers when no such relationship exists.
“The charges are misconceived, erroneous and without any legal basis. I want the court to take a critical look at the charges and if possible dismiss them,” he urged the court.
The lawyers in their respective applications for bail told the court that their clients had been on police enquiry bail for well over a year since investigations began into the matter and they had never done anything contrary to the terms of the bail.
They pleaded with the court to grant them self-recognizance but, or in the alternative, grant them bail with favourable terms.
The A-G said the state reserves its response to the claims made by Dr. Ayine regarding the charges which they consider to be premature.
She said the impression had been created by the defence lawyers that all the accused persons had cooperated fully with the police. However, that was not the case as Dr. Duffuor, his son and Dr. Asiama did not fully cooperate.
Hearing continues on March 24, 2020.
BY Gibril Abdul Razak