UT, Beige Bosses In Court Over GH¢441m Fraud

Mike Nyinakua and Prince Kofi Amoabeng

The
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of UT Bank, Prince Kofi Amoabeng, has been
dragged before an Accra Circuit Court for allegedly stealing and laundering over
GH¢100 million from the bank which is currently in receivership.

The
embattled CEO is said to have stolen GH¢51,334,338.08 and another $8,612,829.33
from the bank between 2009 and 2017.

Mr.
Amoabeng and the CEO of The Beige Group, Michael Nyinaku, in a separate case,
are said to have stolen over GH¢441 million from UT Bank and Beige Group.

Mr.
Amoabeng was finally put before court following investigations by the Economic
and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) and the Special Investigations Taskforce
(STI) spanning almost two years.

According
to the investigations, the STI had received a report from PriceWaterHouseCoopers
through the Governor of the Bank of Ghana on suspicious transactions related to
UT Bank.

UT
Bank is said to have, among other things, engaged in some off-balance sheet
transactions log and issuing investment certificates to investors in the name
of the bank. However, the amount totalling GH¢51,334,338.08 and another
$8,612,829.33 were later transferred to UT Holdings, another company owned by
Mr. Amoabeng.

According
to investigations, Mr. Amoabeng, who was then the CEO of UT Bank, signed most
of the customers’ investment certificates and subsequently transferred those to
UT Holdings.

Mr.
Amoabeng has been charged with two counts of stealing and money laundering and he
has pleaded not guilty to both charges.

Bail

His
lawyer, Addo Attuah, pleaded with the court to grant him bail, saying he was
granted police enquiry bail since he was under investigations by EOCO and STI.

The
lawyer averred that the facts, as presented, were legitimate banking transactions
and they would at the right time prove those.

He
said the accused person would appear for trial when granted bail and would not
in any way interfere with prosecution witnesses.

The
prosecution led by ASP Emmanuel Nyamekye did not oppose the application for
bail but pleaded with the court to order the accused to deposit his passport
with the court registrar and be made to report to the police every Monday and
Friday.

The
court, presided over by Emmanuel Essandoh, granted Mr. Amoabeng bail of GH¢110
million with two sureties, who must be public servants earning not less than
GH¢2,000 a month.

The
case continues on January 22, 2020.

Beige Bank

Meanwhile,
the CEO of The Beige Group, Michael Nyinaku, has also been remanded in prison custody
for stealing over GH¢340 million from the group together with some eight other
persons.

Investigations,
according to the fact sheet, revealed that Beige Group, a subsidiary entity of
Beige Bank, during the latter part of 2017, had agreed with the leadership of
First African Savings and Loans (FASL) to acquire 90 per cent equity shares in
the savings and loans entity at the cost of $2.2 million.

The
Beige Group is said to have eventually paid GH¢9 million as part payment of the
equity shares intended to be purchased and the two companies agreed that a
letter be sent to the Bank of Ghana to regularize the agreement.

FASL
was subsequently made to open an account with The Beige Bank as a subsidiary
and at the time the  bank went into
receivership, FASL account with the bank was said to have an amount of GH¢12
million in it.

Investigations
acceding to the facts of the case reveal that unknown to the authorities of
FASL, TBG secretly opened a second account which had an outstanding balance of
GH¢229 million at the time it went into receivership.

The
account is said to have been opened by Susannah Philips and had suspects
Vanessa Akorfa Atsu, Yvonne Philips and Yiadom Boakye Augustine, all from The Beige
Group, as signatories although the account was opened in the name of FASL.

The
account, according to investigations, had funds close to GH¢340.94 million in
it as initial capital but some of the monies were transferred to affiliate
entities of The Beige Group including Beige Capital, Beige Care, Beige Academy,
Beige Assure, Beventure and some individuals.

The
withdrawals are said to be at the behest of Michael Nyinaku through suspects
Yvonne Nana Etruba Philips and Yiadom Boakye Augustine who co-signed the
documents instructing the transfer of funds to the beneficiaries.

The
facts of the case indicate that one of such requests was made to the
Consolidated Bank Ghana on August 8, 2018 for the transfer of GH¢38,101,0995.89
from the FASL account into Beige Capital Asset Management Limited account.

The
management of FASL was informed about the transfer and it denied having such an
amount in the company’s account.

It
was at that point that they realized a second account was opened in the name of
FASL on the blind side of its management.

The
accused, Michael Nyinaku, through his lawyer Baffuor Gyawu Bonsu, applied for
bail but he was denied it. The presiding judge, Emmanuel Essandoh, said the
case was still under investigations.

Mr. Nyinaku has been remanded to reappear on January 22, 2020.

BY Gibril Abdul Razak

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