On Friday, 10th July, 2020 at the Accra Land Division One (1) High Court presided over by his Lordship Justice Anthony Oppong convicted Daniel Duku, the former Chief Executive Officer of Venture Capital Trust Fund (VCTF) for causing financial loss to the state and money laundering.
His Lordship Justice Anthony Oppong, Justice of the Court of Appeal Sitting as Additional High Court Judge, granted a reparation and restitution in lieu of sentence. Thus, a total amount of GH¢15 million and USD26,063.00 have been agreed upon by the court for Daniel Duku to pay as reparation and restitution sum within 3months from the date of conviction.
Daniel Duku’s assets frozen by the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) have been confiscated to the State for the payment of the agreed reparation and restitution sum. The Attorney-General has therefore agreed with Daniel Duku, 1st Accused to sell three (3) unit houses to defray the amount agreed upon.
The 1st Accused stood trial with five (5) others; Richard Lassey Agbenyefia (2nd Accused), Irene Anti Mensah (3rd Accused), Kofi Sarpong (4th Accused), Frank Aboagye Mensah (5th Accused) and Charity Opoku also known as Charity Ameyaw (6th Accused).
Daniel Duku, 1st Accused (AI) pleaded guilty on 35 counts.
The 3rd Accused (A3), Irene Anti Mensah and 5th Accused (A5), Frank Aboagye Mensah pleaded guilty on 7 counts and 14 counts respectively and were convicted on their own plea.
The 2nd Accused (A2) and 4th Accused (A4) pleaded not guilty to 20 counts and 19 counts whilst the 6th Accused (A6) also pleaded not guilty to 2 counts.
In all the accused persons were charged with eighty-six (86) offences which included willfully causing financial loss to the state, abetment of crime, stealing, defrauding by false pretenses, money laundering, issuing of false cheque among others.
The 1st Accused, 3rd Accused and 5th Accused applied for reparation and restitution of which the Prosecution did not oppose it under S.35 of the Courts Act, 1993( Act 459).
The court held that it had considered the merits of the application of the accused persons/applicants for the order of reparation and restitution. The court explained that such a situation calls for an appeal but due to the exigency of the matter in terms of what an appeal would entail with relevance to the cost and resources involved, as well as to prevent injustice where an opportunity avails, the application was granted.
His Lordship Justice Anthony Oppong therefore did not pass custodial sentence but rather granted reparation and restitution in lieu of sentence.
The court then ordered that 1st Accused, 3rd Accused and 5th Accused retake their plea to guilty and were convicted therewith.
His Lordship Justice Anthony Oppong stated that the 1st Accused would sell three (3) unit houses, which were acquired between 2010 and 2015 when he was the CEO of Venture Capital Trust Fund to defray the amount agreed upon.
The court agreed that 3rd Accused should pay a total amount of GH¢1.5million in three (3) installments to Venture Capital Trust Fund as reparation and restitution sum. The 3rd Accused is to pay GH¢C300,000.00 within seven (7) days after conviction and the outstanding amount to be paid within three (3) months.
The court also agreed that the 5th Accused should pay GH¢1,195,000.00 to Venture Capital Trust Fund as reparation and restitution sum. He is to pay GH¢200,000.00 within seven (7) days after conviction and pay the remaining in three (3) installments within three (3) months.
The court held that since their actions have occasioned financial loss to the State and Venture Capital Trust Fund, 1st Accused was charged to pay GH¢500,000.00 to the State as compensation whilst 3rd Accused and 5th Accused pays GH¢100,000.00 each as compensation.
According to the court, failure to pay the amount agreed upon within the stipulated period, it shall proceed to pass a custodial sentence on them.
Regarding the other accused persons, case is adjourned to 23rd October, 2020 for case management conference.
Venture Capital Trust Fund (VCTF) was established in 2004 by the Venture Capital Trust Fund Act 2004 (Act 680) to provide financial support to small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) through eligible venture capital financing companies.
Between 2010 and 2015, the former CEO of VCTF, Daniel Duku (A1) and five (5) others have caused the Republic to loss a total amount of GH¢42,856,470.21.
The former Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Daniel Duku introduced a loan scheme (Development Assistance Fund (DAF) that provided credit directly to individuals and companies which was contrary to the VCTF Act. The Board was made to approve the establishment of the DAF. The Board however established strict guidelines under which the loans were to be disbursed. Inadvertently, the Board approved GH¢2,000,000 as revolving fund for the DAF project.
Daniel Duku disbursed various sums of money under DAF which far exceeded the approved amount of GH¢2,000,000. The approved amount was initially GH¢1,500,000.00 but was later increased by the Board to GH¢2,000.000 due to false reports on the state of scheme Daniel Duku presented to the Board.
In addition, Daniel Duku approved loans under DAF and SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle) which were above his threshold directly to a number of companies some of which were non-existence. Some of the fictitious companies bore addresses that belonged to Daniel Duku. He also used names of a number of companies belonging to other persons to obtain loans without their knowledge, permission and consent.
Charity Opoku aka Charity Ameyaw (A6) who was the accountant at VCTF and a signatory to the VCTF account helped Daniel Duku to sign blank cheques to grant loans to some of the companies while on leave. Some of the cheques were issued even before some of the loan applications were received. Daniel Duku used the signed blank cheques to grant loans amounting to GH¢4,240,000 which resulted in a total of loss of GH¢12,601,796.25 being principal and accrued interest.
Daniel Duku misled the Board by reporting that he has recovered 81% of the outstanding loans under DAF when he was instructed to suspend disbursement of loans and concentrate on recoveries in 2013.
In January 2015, Daniel Duku ignored all instructions of the Board to discontinue the disbursement of the loan and focus on recoveries but went ahead to grant loans without the knowledge of the Board.
In June 2015, Daniel Duku’s appointment was terminated but he still remained at post and continued to disburse more loans to companies that belonged to his official driver and some cronies.
Daniel Duku was given USD26,063.00 to attend an official programme in the United States of America of which he did not attend neither did he refund the amount involved.
Richard Lassey Agbenyefia (A2) obtained loans in the names of existing companies based on false representations and in the names of non-existent companies from VCTF.
Irene Anti Mensah (A3) and Kofi Sarpong (A4) in their capacity as Investment Officers failed to conduct requisite due diligence on loan applications and facilitated the granting of loans through false information.
Frank Aboagye Mensah (A5) used non-existent companies to obtain loan from VCTF and contributed to dishonestly appropriate funds in the VCTF.
Source: Tax and Revenue Fraud Unit & Public Affairs Unit