The OSP’s criminal intelligence suggested that the first respondent had unexplained large cash sums of money (far above her income as a Minister of State) secreted and stashed up in her residence; and that her house-helps had allegedly helped themselves to part of said sums of money through larceny.
The OSP’s criminal intelligence further suggested that the first respondent, as a Minister of State, was engaged in an undisclosed and undeclared real estate business in which she obscured and concealed the transactions by employing the use of aliases to avoid detection of the actual ownership of the business and properties, while cleverly receiving hte proceeds of the transactions in her bank accounts and investments.
On 5th July 2023, the Republic, based on complaint filed by the respondents herein, commenced criminal proceedings in the Circuit Court, Accra against four (4) persons on an amended charge sheet on various counts of stealing in Case No. D4/155/2023 titled The Republic. v Patience Botwe and Three Others.
The charges filed in court in respect of said proceedings recounted that between July and October 2022 the accused persons allegedly stole valuable items from the residence of the respondents herein at Abelemkpe, Accra – including large cash amounts of One Million United States dollars (US$1,000,000.00; Three Hundred Thousand euros (€300,000.00); and Three Hundred and Fifty Thousand Ghana Cedis (GH¢ 350,000) belonging to the first respondent.
- The respondents assessed the value of other stolen items – including jewelry, bags and clothes belonging to the first respondent – ta One Hundred and Thirty-One Thousand and Four Hundred United States dollars (US$131,400.00) and Ninety- Five Thousand Cedis (GH¢95,000.00). While the value of items stolen from the second respondent stood at Ninety Thousand Cedis (GH¢90,000.00) and three Thousand United States dollars (US$3,000.00). The Charge Sheet is attached and annexed as Exhibit “OSP1”.
- On the basis of the huge volumes of cash alleged to have been stolen from the respondents’ residence recounted in the court processes in said proceedings, particularly as belonging to the first respondent who was a public officer, and reinforced by the OSP’s criminal intelligence alluding to suspected unexplained huge volumes of cash stashed and concealed ta the residence of the respondents, which were suspected to be proceeds of corruption, the Special Prosecutor authorised full investigations of the respondents as deposed to in paragraph 6 above.
- A search immediately conducted at the Abelemkpe residence of the respondents by authorised officers of the OSP in the urgency of the case on 42 July 2023 led to the discovery of the cash sums of Five Hundred and Ninety Thousand United States Dollars (US$590,000.00) and Two Million Eight Hundred and Sixty- Two Thousand and Seven Ghana Cedis (GHC2,862,007.00). Further searches were conducted were conducted in wt o 2() other residential properties of the respondents in Cantonments and Tesano in Accra.
- The cash moneys were craftily concealed in wraps, polythene bags, clothes, thirty- two 3(2)
envelopes and were buried and secreted in obscure places in the residence, some with labels and descriptions. Audio-visual recording of the search revealing the surreptitiously concealed cash sums of money are attached in a sealed pen drive and marked as Exhibit “OSP2” Series.
In accordance with section 32(1) (a) of Office of the Special Prosecutor Act, 2017 (Act 959), authorised officers of the OSP, having reasonable grounds to suspect that the cash sums are tainted property and that it was necessary to prevent concealment or loss, seized the cash sums discovered at the residence of the respondents in aid of the investigation.
The Special Prosecutor directed the arrest of the first respondent on 24 July 2023 and subsequently the second respondent on 1August 2023.
Upon the release of the cash sums of money earlier to the first respondent in compliance with an order of the High Court, Accra dated 31 August 2023, authorised officers of the OSP re-seized same on 5 September 2023 to aid the ongoing investigation upon reasonable grounds that the cash sums of money remained suspected tainted property. The seizure was effected to prevent loss, concealment or dissipation pending the completion of the ongoing investigation. Attached and marked as Exhibit “OSP3” is a copy of the seizure notice dated 5 September 2023.
The reasonable grounds that the cash sums seized from the residence of the respondents are suspected tainted property (as suspected to be derived, obtained, or realised from the commission of corruption or corruption-related offences) are premised on the consideration that the cash sums are unexplained and not linked to any disclosed lawful source(s) of income of the respondents; and reinforced by the conduct of the respondents in their rendition of varying and sometimes conflicting accounts of the ownership and source(s) of the large amounts of money reportedly stolen from her residence, the cash amounts seized from her by the OSP, and the link between the large sums of money reportedly stolen from their residence and the cash amounts seized by authorised officers of the OSP.
i.There are no financial records and traces of the origin(s) of the money reportedly stolen from the residence of the respondents and the money discovered by the OSP at said residence. Further, there is no evidence of the amounts of money having been derived from any legitimate businesses, profession or vocation, and no evidence of said amounts having been lawfully declared and subjected to any statutory payments.
- During the search conducted in her presence, the first respondent disavowed and claimed no knowledge of the presence of the said cash sums in the residence. The conduct of the first respondent, being a public officer, heightened the suspicion of the authorised officers of the OSP that the cash sums were tainted property.
iii. In her investigation cautioned statement to the OSP during the course of interviewing on 24 July 2023, the first respondent categorically stated that an amount of Eight Hundred Thousand United States Dollars (US$ 800,000.00) out of the cash sums reportedly stolen from their residence belonged to her deceased brother, one Nana Akwasi Essan II. Attached and sealed and marked as Exhibit “OSP4” is a copy of the cautioned statement of the first respondent.
- Subsequently, on 28 July 2023, in a further statement voluntarily given to the OSP, the first
respondent claimed that the amount of Five Hundred and Ninety Thousand United States dollars (US$590,000.00) concealed in their residence and discovered by the OSP was part of the One Million United States dollars (US$1,000,000.00) the respondents had reported to the police as stolen from their premises. By this, the first respondent was suggesting that though the accused persons in Case No. D4/155/2023 titled The Republic v. Patience Botwe and Three Others are standing trial for, inter alia, allegedly stealing One Million United States dollars (US$1,000,000.00), in fact the amount they allegedly stole in the dollar currency was Four Hundred and Ten Thousand United States dollars (US$410,000.00).
Attached and sealed and marked as Exhibit “OSP5” is a copy of the first respondent’s further statement.
- The first respondent feigned having no knowledge of and also could not attest to the source of the cash sums beyond the mere statement that her deceased brother (who she had stated as being the owner of Eight Hundred Thousand United States Dollars (USS 800,000.00) allegedly stolen from said residence) owned businesses. She later recoiled and pled her constitutional right to remain silent by refusing to provide information on the ownership and sources of the amount of money reportedly stolen from said premises and the cash sums discovered by the OSP in said premises. Attached and sealed and marked as Exhibit “OSP6” is the latest cautioned statement of the first respondent 7 September 2023, on the issue.
- The first respondent also claimed in Exhibit “OSP5” that she owns an undisclosed and unidentifiable part of the sum of Two Million Eight Hundred and Sixty-Two Thousand Cedis and Seven Ghana Cedis (GHC2,862,007.00) retrieved from said residence. She claimed that some of the money was received as sitting allowances and revenue from her cosmetics business, which she registered under the name Dermacare Cosmetics as a sole proprietorship. However, OSP’s investigation revealed that the first respondent is not the registered legal owner of the said business enterprise.
The official records at the Office of the Registrar of Companies reveal the proprietor of Dermacare Cosmetics as one Marian Awuah. A copy of the Business Registration Documents of Dermacare Cosmetics is attached and sealed and marked as Exhibit “OSP7”
vii. Further investigation by the OSP revealed the existence of another business entity with the name Dermacare Enterprise registered with the postal address of the first respondent. However, the legal ownership vests in one one Victoria Adiok and not the first respondent. A copy of the Business Registration Documents of that business is attached and sealed and marked as Exhibit “OSP8”. Further investigation into the actual beneficial owners) of this business is ongoing.
viii. The first respondent also claimed in Exhibit “OSP5” that part of the discovered cash in Cedis discovered by the OSP in said residence was proceeds from the sale of her Dermacare Cosmetics business in 2003, which she kept in her house. This heightened the suspicion of the authorised officers of the OSP since the discovered Cedi currency notes are in the new Cedi denominations introduced in July 2007 and they were not in existence in 2003 when the alleged sale of Dermacare Cosmetics was purportedly completed in 2003.
- Then again, contrary to the first respondent’s claim that Dermacare Cosmetics ceased operations in 2003, the business registration documents (Exhibit “OSP7”) show that the business was registered in 2018. Further, the first respondent was unable to provide particulars of the said business sale and proof of statutory payments in respect of the said business.
- Although the first respondent claimed that part of the cash sums discovered by the OSP was funeral donations and another part belonged to the second respondent, the first respondent has been unable to provide details of what component of the Two Million Eight Hundred and Sixty-Two Thousand Cedis and Seven Cedis (GHC2,862,007.00) represent funeral donations and which part belongs to the second respondent. Indeed, contrary to the claims of the first respondent, the second respondent, in his cautioned statements and interviews with the OSP, did not lay claim to any part of the money. The cautioned statement and further cautioned statement of second respondent are attached and sealed and marked as Exhibit “OSP 9” and Exhibit “OSP 10”.
- The first respondent claimed that the various amounts stashed in thirty-two (32) different envelopes, discovered through the arduous search by authorised officers of the OSP, amounting to a total sum of One Hundred and Thirty-Two Thousand and Seven Cedis (GH¢132,007.00) were her sitting allowances. A record of the various sums sealed in said envelopes range from Four Hundred Cedis (GH¢400.00) to Thirty-Eight Thousand One Hundred and Sixty Cedis (GH¢ 38,160.00), most of which far exceed the approved sums recommended for payment to public officials as sitting allowances – raising suspicion as to the legitimacy of their sources. The said record is attached and sealed and marked as Exhibit “OSP11”.
xii. The second respondent in his cautioned statement to OSP (Exhibit “OSP10”) attributed ownership of the sum of Two Hundred Thousand United States dollars (US$ 200,000.00) out of the dollar amount discovered by the OSP and which the respondents claim they erroneously reckoned as allegedly stolen from said residence) to his niece, one Akua Dorcas Owiredua living in the United States of America.
xili. The second respondent claimed that his niece is in the habit of remitting money to him from the United States for the purposes of her construction projects in respect of which he acts as consultant. However, the identified niece was unable to provide evidence of the source of the said amounts and evidence of lawful remittance of said sums to the second respondent.
Whereupon she claimed to have personally and physically brought the said sums purportedly amounting to Two Hundred Thousand United States dollars (US$ 200,000.00) without lawful declaration.
xiv. Indeed, the second respondent and his supposed niece gave conflicting accounts of how the purported remittances were delivered to the second respondent, number of times she visited Ghana to give him money and how much money was given to the second respondent during each visit. The recorded statement of Akua Dorcas Owiredua and its transcription are attached and sealed and marked as Exhibit “OSP12” and Exhibit “OSP12A”.
- Though the respondents claim that the amounts of money discovered by the OSP in said residence form part of the amounts they earlier reported to the police as allegedly stolen from said residence, they are yet to take steps to report their purported discovery and change of facts and circumstances to the Ghana Police Service to amend their allegations of theft for which eight (8) accused persons are currently standing trial.
- On the basis of the foregoing and in pursuance of section 32 of Act 959, the applicant contends that this a fit and proper case for this Honourable Court to confirm the seizure by the OSP of the cash amounts of Five Hundred and Ninety Thousand United States dollars (US$590,000.00) and Two Million Eight Hundred and Sixty-Two Thousand and Seven cedis (GHC2,862,007.00) discovered by the OSP at the residential property of the respondents located at Abelemkpe.
- Further, the Special Prosecutor, considering that freezing of the property of the first respondent is necessary to facilitate the ongoing investigation, invoked his statutory power under section 38(1) of Act 959 and directed the freezing of the first respondent’s bank accounts and investments held at Prudential Bank Limited and Societe Generale Ghana. Attached and sealed and marked as Exhibits “OSP13” and “OSP14” are the respective freezing orders.
- The applicant submits that by the combined effect of sections 38 and 40 of Act 959, all that is required for this Honourable Court to confirm the freezing orders in question in the circumstances of the present case is to satisfy itself that; the respondent in question is being investigated for corruption or a corruption-related offence; and the Special Prosecutor has, in writing, frozen the property in question being the property of the respondent or specified property held by a person or entity other than the respondent) as being considered necessary to facilitate the investigation; and
iii. there are reasonable grounds to believe that a confiscation order shall be made under Act 959 in respect of the property – that is to say, that the property in question is liable to be confiscated if at the end of the investigation it is established to the satisfaction of the court that it is indeed tainted property in subsequent proceedings for confiscation of the property.
- The law does not require the applicant to establish any other ground beyond the above or to place before the court, at this stage, the outcome of the investigation or the detailed indices of the investigation or to have conducted rigorous investigation at this stage. The law merely situates the matter in the context of a person being investigated and a simple and straightforward estimation of the Special Prosecutor – that he considers that freezing of the property is necessary to facilitate the investigation. That is to say, the freezing order is merely to facilitate the investigation and not as the outcome of the investigation or that the findings of the investigation necessitate the freezing order. And further that, should the property be indeed established as tainted property subsequently, it will be liable to be confiscated. Any contrary reading of the clear and simple provisions of Act 959 in the context of the instant case would be per incurring and unwarranted.
- On this reckoning, the freezing order regime of the OSP is remarkably sui generis and different from that of other investigating bodies in the jurisdiction – which require very detailed grounds of such bodies in an application for confirmation of a freezing order. And the applicant humbly submits that fidelity must he had to Act 959 in respect of the instant application and not in reference – directly or preferentially to inapplicable laws and statutory provisions.
- On this score, the applicant has demonstrated beyond satisfaction from the foregoing that the first respondent, whose bank accounts and investments are under a freezing order, is being investigated for corruption and corruption-related offences including using public office for profit as deposed to in paragraph 6 above and that the frozen property is liable to be confiscated should it be subsequently established as tainted property.
25 However, ex abundati cantela – out of abundance of caution, the applicant would proceed to state the particulars informing his estimation that the frozen property is suspected tainted property and that it is necessary to freeze the property to facilitate the investigation to prevent loss and dissipation.
- There are several suspicious transactions running through the bank accounts and investments of the first respondent and other transactions which cannot be attributed to her lawful income and her declared or disclosed sources of income at all material times in her position as a public officer.
- On another score, the first respondent simply refused to speak to the sources of the funds running through her bank accounts and investments.
iii. As deposed to in paragraph 8 above, the OSP’s criminal intelligence suggested that the first respondent, as a Minister of State, was engaged in an undisclosed and undeclared real estate
business in which she obscured and concealed the transactions by employing the use of aliases to avoid detection of the actual ownership of the business and properties, while cleverly receiving the proceeds of the transactions in her bank accounts and investments.
- In an instance, the first respondent sold a SSNIT Borteyman Estates Flat No. BT/OD/BLK2/2BR/1 under the name of Nana Yaa Ode. Indeed, the first respondent appended her signature on all relevant correspondence with the buyer under the name of Nana Yaa Ode.
Concerning the payment, first respondent, through her agent, gave the buyer her Prudential Bank Account Number 0090924640014. It was only at the point of payment at the bank that the agent of the first respondent revealed to the buyer that the true identity of Nana Yaa Ode was the first respondent, into whose account payment of the purchase price of One Hundred and Seventeen Thousand Cedis (GHC 117,000.00 was to be made and was effected. A copy of the investigation statement of the buyer in question is attached and sealed and marked as Exhibit “OSP15” while the Correspondence on the transaction signed by first respondent in the name of Nana Yaa Ode is attached and marked as Exhibit “OSP16”
There is also the transfer of an amount of One Hundred and Forty-Four Thousand Nine Hundred Cedis (GH¢ 149,900.00) into the first respondent’s Prudential Bank Cedi account number account 0090924640014 as payment order IFO SSNIT Borteyman Sales Account on 17 January 2018.
Analysis of the statements in the first respondent’s Prudential Bank account number 0090924640014 highly suspicious transactions involving the name of the first respondent’s deceased brother – Nana Akwasi Essan. The said Nana Akwasi Essan died in January 2022 and there is no record domiciled at the financial institutions of probate or letters of administration granted to personal representatives). Strangely, there are active transfers from the deceased person’s bank account to that of the first respondent’s Prudential Bank account number 0090924640014. As recently as 19 September 2022 and 23 May 2023, amounts of Ten Thousand Four Hundred and Fifty Cedis (GH¢10,450.00) and Eleven Thousand Two Hundred and Eighty Thousand Cedis (GH¢11,280.00) respectively were transferred, supposedly by the deceased brother to the first respondent.
vii. Analysis conducted on first respondent’s Prudential Bank dollar account number 0090924640058 revealed the following payment transactions into the account, which are unsupported by the first respondent’s disclosed lawful income:
- a) Deposit of One Hundred and Thirty-Thousand United States dollars (US$130,000.00) by the first respondent on 22 November 2016.
- b) A transfer of the amount of One Hundred Thousand United States dollars (US$100,000.00) by the first respondent on 29 June 2023.
A copy of the statement on the said account is attached and sealed and marked as Exhibit “OSP17”.
- Analysis of first respondent’s Prudential Bank Cedis account number 0090924640014 revealed the following transactions unsupported by the first respondent’s disclosed lawful income:
- On 10 April 2019 and 29 July 2019, two payments of the sums of Seventy-Five Thousand Cedis (GHe 75,000.00) and Fifty-Four Thousand Five Hundred Cedis (GH¢ 54,500.00) respectively made by cheque deposit numbers 186739 and 360379 into first respondent’s account number 0090924640014.
- Deposit of One Hundred Thousand Cedis (GH¢100,000.00) by the first respondent into this account on 10 August 2021.
- Within a period of five (5) months, precisely on 16 August 2022 and 25 January 2023, transfer by the first respondent from this account of the sums of Three Hundred Ghana Cedis (GH¢300,000.00) and Three Hundred and Fifty Cedis (GH¢ 350,000.00) totaling Six Hundred and Fifty Thousand Cedis (GH¢650,000.00) to Sundry P/O’s issued IFO Land Commission Account.
On 19 April 2023, payment by the first respondent of the amount of One Hundred and Twenty Thousand Cedis (GH¢120,000.00) into this account.
- On 19 May 2023, payment by the first respondent of the sum of One Hundred and Sixty Thousand Cedis (GH¢160,000.00) into this account. A copy of the Bank Statement of the first respondent on Prudential Bank Cedis account number 0090924640014 is attached and sealed and marked as Exhibit “OSP18”.
26 On the basis of the foregoing, the Special Prosecutor prays this Honourable Court to confirm the seizure of the suspected tainted currency and the freezing order in pursuance of sections 32(2) and 38(2) of Act 959 and regulation 19(2)(b) of L.I. 2374, and further in terms of section 40(3) of Act 959.
WHEREFORE I swear to this affidavit in support of the application.