Pastor Kelvin Elson Godson
The Founder and General Overseer of Zoe Outreach Embassy Church, Kelvin Elson Godson and his wife, Sabina Elson Godson, were yesterday hauled before an Accra High Court for allegedly defrauding about 875 people, most of whom are congregants of the church, to the tune of GH¢23,773,950.00.
The pastor, according to court documents, had convinced his congregants and some members of the public to invest in his company, EL Real Estate Limited, in a scheme dubbed ‘Lease-Buy-Back’ where he would sell plots of land and other landed properties to them, invest the monies in his investment company, and later buy same back at higher prices.
Official documents indicate that Pastor Godson started receiving payments from members of his church and the general public from April, 2018, which were paid into his companies’ different bank accounts, after which he and the wife allegedly “prepared fictitious documents purportedly covering some lands which they issued to the complainants,” court documents disclosed.
The two have been charged with 40 counts of conspiracy to commit fraud and defrauding by false pretence, and another count of money laundering. They pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The prosecution’s facts signed by Marina Appiah Opare, a Chief State Attorney, stated that the accused persons had indicated that the monies realised from the sale of the land were invested in the international money market through Tikowrie Capital Limited, Fine Fort Capital Limited, Top FX and Edge FX.
“As part of the agreement, after the maturity date, they would pay the principal with interest rates between 100 to 480%, but failed to do so, and after several demands from the complainants, the accused persons have up to date not paid them,” the facts disclosed.
It further stated that during the period that the complainants were paying monies into the accounts of Pastor Godson’s companies, he deposited and withdrew a huge sum of money from Fine Fort Capital and bought Fromfrom Capital Limited from its owners by August 31, 2018, which was not part of the ‘Lease-Buy-Back’ agreement.
Investigations revealed that EL Real Estates Limited, a company registered with the core mandate of selling lands and other landed properties had rather ventured into providing financial and investment services without licence from the Securities and Exchange Commission, while Fine Fort Capital Limited is also not licensed to engage in the business of investment or fund management, the facts added.
“In all, 784 persons invested a total of GH¢19,288,950.00 with EL Real Estates Limited, 79 persons invested a total of GH¢4,208,500.00 with Tikowrie Capital Limited, while 12 invested a total of GH¢275,500 with Fromfrom Capital Limited.”
Dorm Esi Fiadzoe, an Assistant State Attorney, told the court the prosecution was not opposed to bail, but urged it to set stringent conditions to compel the accused persons to apppear, for trial.
Justice Mary Yanzuh, a relieving judge, granted the pastor and his wife a bail of GH¢23 million with three sureties each, one each to be verified with documents of a landed property.
The sureties are to deposit recognised national identification cards with the court’s registrar, while the justified sureties are to deposit their passports with the registrar. The accused are also to report to the Economic Crime Unit of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service once every month until the final determination of the case.
BY Gibril Abdul Razak