General News of Thursday, 12 October 2017
A 51-year-old German national, Michael Punke, was Wednesday sentenced to six years imprisonment in hard labour by the Accra Circuit Court for defrauding two individuals of GH¢40,500.
The court established that Punke was part of a syndicate and normally presented himself as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Bui Power Authority under many aliases to dupe unsuspecting individuals.
Punke was found guilty by the court, presided over by Mrs Marian Affoh, on four counts of conspiracy to defraud by false pretence and was sentenced to five years for each count.
The court also found him guilty on two counts of defrauding by false pretence and slapped him with a six-year-jail term for each count.
All the sentences will run concurrently.
The court, however, found him not guilty on two other charges of defrauding by false pretence, and discharged him accordingly.
Three other members of the syndicate are, however, on the run.
Passing sentence, Mrs Affoh said the convict failed to provide any reasonable evidence to disprove the prosecution’s case.
The court also held that Punke failed to provide any evidence to back a supposed alibi that he presented during the trial that he was not present or involved in any of the fraudulent transactions.
Per the case of the prosecution, the modus operandi of the syndicate was to contact individuals with an offer that Bui Power needed people to supply them with pipe sealants and stabiliser rings for a project.
Afterwards, Punke would introduce himself to the individuals under a fake name as the CEO of Bui Power, who needed samples of the items before they would get the contract.
A member of the syndicate would then tell the individuals to buy the samples from a certain person, who normally happens to be part of the syndicate.
The unsuspecting individuals would then pay for the samples but would not hear from the seller or the other members of the syndicate again.
Superintendent Rebecca Nyamah, the prosecutor, told the court that in January 2016 the syndicate used the trick to defraud a construction engineer of GH¢24,000 under the pretext of giving him a contract to supply pipe sealants.
“In this instance, Punke presented himself to the engineer as Fernando Lopez and CEO of Bui Power,’’ she said.
After the act, the prosecutor said, all the members of the syndicate discarded their sim cards, making it impossible for the engineer to get in touch with them.
With regard to the second case, the syndicate is said to have defrauded another man of GH¢16,500. This time the syndicate pretended to be in the process of offering the man a contract to supply stabiliser rings.
“After the transaction, Punke and his syndicate discarded their sim cards,” she stated.
Superintendent Nyamah said police investigations led to Punke’s arrest after complaints from many individuals about the syndicate’s activities.