The former Chief Executive Officer of Venture Capital Trust Fund, under the erstwhile John Mahama administration, Daniel Duku, and two others have begun repaying some GH¢17.69 million allegedly stolen from the Fund.
According to the current CEO of the Fund, Yaw Owusu Berempong, Mr Duku, his Executive Assistant, Irene Anti Mensah, and the husband of the Executive Assistant, Frank Aboagye Mensah, have started repayment of the stolen cash.
Speaking at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) sitting yesterday, Mr Brempong noted that per an arrangement they had with the State, Mr Duku is to refund over GH¢15 million, whereas his Executive Assistant and the husband are both to pay back over GH¢2 million.
Mr Berempong explained that “between 2012 and 2015, 205 loans were granted to companies and about 90 per cent of those loans were fraudulently processed and disbursed,” adding that the total principal amount involved was GH¢14.7million while interest accrued on the loans amounted to GH¢42 million.
“For over two years we worked with both EOCO and BNI and the matter was eventually taken to court. Six people were charged: Daniel Duku; Richard Larsen, former Board Member and former MP for Keta; Irene Anti Mensah; Frank Aboagye Mensah; Charity Opoku, an Accountant; and Kofi Sarpong, an Investment Officer.
“Two months ago, three out of the six, that is Mr Duku and Mr and Mrs Mensah, decided to go under the Section 35 of the Court’s Acts (Act 459), which, I understand, allows them to negotiate settlement and compensation with the AG and plead guilty at Court,” he further explained.
He disclosed that, per the arrangement, the three are to pay the amount in three months or risk being sent to jail.
The former CEO, Mr Duku, agreed to pay the over GH₵15 million to the State in the case in which he and five others had been charged for stealing GH₵42.8 million.
The other two also entered into an agreement with the Attorney-General to pay restitution to the State.
The Lands Division of the Accra High Court, thus, directed the Director of Public Prosecution (PDD) to file the terms of the agreement arrived at in the case.
However, the other accused persons are yet to make known their intentions.
In June this year, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Mrs Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa, told the court that the three accused persons had reached an agreement with the Attorney-General, and therefore the State would like the court to accept the agreement and convict the accused persons as guilty.
Justice Anthony Oppong, the presiding judge, however, said the agreement for restitution had not been fully executed by the accused persons and the Attorney General because it had not been signed by the accused persons.
Illegal loan scheme
According to the facts of the case, Mr Duku facilitated the recruitment of Irene and Sarpong, who were his work colleagues at the Ghana Investment Promotion Authority (GIPA).
Upon assumption of office, he introduced a loan scheme, called Development Assistance Fund (DAF), to provide credit directly to individuals and companies, in clear contravention of the VCTF Act, and contrary to the objects of the Fund.
Despite the advice of solicitors of VCTF on the illegality of the proposed loan scheme, Mr Duku allegedly managed to obtain the approval of the Board for the establishment of the scheme.
According to the prosecution, Mr Duku, by approval of the Board, could only approve loans not exceeding GH₵30,000. The Board also approved strict guidelines under which the loans were to be disbursed.
An amount of GH₵1million, which was later increased to GH₵2million, was approved by the Board as a revolving fund for the DAF project.
According to the prosecution, investigations revealed that Mr Duku disbursed various sums of money under the scheme, the total of which far exceeded the approved amount of GH₵2million.
Prior to the appointment of Mr Duku as CEO, and the establishment of DAF, VCTF operated an existing scheme which gave loans to farmers in the Northern and then Brong-Ahafo regions for the cultivation of sorghum.
This loan scheme, known as the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), gave loans to certain Venture Capital Finance Companies (VCFC), including SINAPI ABA and Techno Serve Company Limited, for onward lending to farmers.
The SPV had a minimum of GH₵50,000 and GH₵500,000 as the maximum amount that could be disbursed at a time to the Venture Capital Finance Companies.
This programme ran successfully until Mr Duku assumed leadership in June 2010 when the project stopped.
However, in or about October 2010, the SPV was reintroduced and this time to be controlled directly from the office of Mr Duku. He could, however, only approve loans up to GH₵50,000.
Contrary to, and in flagrant disregard for the approved Board thresholds for the CEO, he persistently approved loans, purportedly under DAF and SPV, well above his threshold directly to a number of companies some of which were non-existent. Some of these fictitious companies bore addresses which belonged to him.
He also used the names of a number of companies belonging to other persons to obtain loans without the knowledge, permission and or consent of the owners of the companies.