Kessben Caged! Over $127m Cash
Kumasi-based businessman and Managing Director of Kessben Shipping, Forwarding and Trading Limited, Stephen Boateng, otherwise known as Kwabena Kesse (Kessben), was yesterday remanded into police custody by an Accra Circuit Court for alleged money laundering.
The businessman is facing two counts of money laundering and forgery of documents, and he is expected to reappear in court on August 7.
Kwabena Kesse is said to have transferred the sum of $127,931,727 65 which was said to be part of proceeds of unlawful activity between January 2013 and February 2014 to China, Hong Kong, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Indonesia, United States of America (USA), Korea and Thailand.
The businessman, who owns Kessben FM, a popular Kumasi-based private radio station, is also said to have forged bills of lading and invoices to Stanbic Bank in Accra and transferred monies out of the country.
However, in a court presided over by Francis Obiri, the accused person pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against him by the prosecution and was remanded in police custody.
He was arrested on Monday by the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) for the offences.
Mr. Kesse was reportedly picked up at the Kotoka International Airport in the presence of his children and wife shortly after returning from a trip abroad.
Counsel for Kesse, Carl Adongo and Ohene Djan, prayed the court to grant the accused bail.
Mr. Adongo said the police had prejudged the case in view of the figures put out by the prosecution but that did not mean he (Kesse) was liable.
According to him, the charges preferred against the accused were bailable and that it behoved the court to be mindful of the situation where the police could use the court as a ‘chamber for remand’.
Mr. Adongo challenged the police to tell the court where they got their facts, adding that Kesse ought not to have been arrested in his personal capacity as MD of his company.
He said the amounts purported by the police to have been transferred were peanuts.
Prosecution Fights Back
DSP Abraham Annor, opposing the bail application, indicated that granting the request could hamper the investigation of the police.
He said Kesse is a person with the power to influence their investigation if the court grants him bail.
DSP Annor averred that there were documents the prosecution could require and that granting Kesse bail could make the police not get them.
The prosecutor also stated that by granting bail to the accused, a lot of evidence would be lost while other collaborators in the deal the police must uncover might not be possible.
Quoting Section 96 (1) of Act 30, Mr. Obiri said granting of bail was the discretion of the court, but did not think it was appropriate to tie the hands of the prosecution by granting bail to the accused person.
Mr. Obiri noted that having listened to both parties for the application for bail, he was unable to grant it, stressing that the application could be repeated at the next adjourned date.
DSP Annor said in February 2014, the accused used fraudulent documentation to facilitate the onward transfer of large volumes of foreign exchange to dubious addresses.
He said investigation was conducted into the matter and it was revealed that Kesse, using his company’s name as a conduit, fraudulently transferred the abovementioned monies out of Ghana through Stanbic Bank to the aforementioned countries.
DSP Annor stated that the accused was arrested upon his arrival on a KLM flight at the Kotoka Airport on Monday July 28.
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By Jeffrey De-Graft Johnson
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