The Criminal High Court presided over by Justice Clemence Hoyennuga, has adjourned sitting in the case involving the former CEO COCOBOD Dr. Kwabena Opuni.
The case was adjourned to Wednesday June 13, 2018 to allow for the Court to deliver its ruling on an application by lawyers of the accused persons demanding pre-trial disclosures of all documents before trial commences.
According to the presiding judge, he was waiting for a certified true copy of the Supreme Court decision delivered on the 7th of June 2018, on pretrial disclosure in criminal trials to guide his ruling.
The Registrar of the Supreme Court, Justice Hoyennuga stated, assured that he would get the Supreme Court’s decision of June 7, 2018 by close of day Monday June 11, 2018, thus the adjournment of the case to Wednesday June 13, 2018.
The adjournment comes after an Accra High Court on May 21 dismissed an application by Dr. Opuni through his lawyers to have his bank account de-frozen.
The Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) wrote to the respective banks not to allow Mr. Opuni access to his money just a day after a court ordered accounts to be released. The banks involved Standard Chartered Bank and the Opeibea House branch of Ecobank.
The High court presided over by Georgina Mensah-Datsa while dismissing the application said EOCO has the duty to protect state funds.
Dr. Opuni’s accounts were frozen in February 2017 at the behest of EOCO, which is investigating him since he was axed from the office when President Akufo-Addo took office.
He and businessman Seidu Agongo are facing charges for alleged financial malfeasance in the execution of some contracts at COCOBOD. They have been granted self-recognizance bail in the sum of GHc300, 000 each.
In a Republic of Ghana suit signed by Evelyn D. Keelson, Chief Attorney, (No CR158/2018) titled the ‘The Republic v Stephen Kwabena Opuni,’ the former Chief Executive of COCOBOD is accused of defrauding the state with false pretenses contrary to Section 20 (1) and (131) 1 of the Criminal Offenses Act, 1960 (Act 29).
He is equally charged with corruption by public officer contrary to Section 239 (1) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29). The particulars are that Stephen Opuni, on October 10, 2014, in Accra, agreed to permit his conduct as Chief Executive of COCOBOD to be influenced by an amount GHC 25,000 from Seidu Agongo.
According to a copy of the suit, between January 2014 and November 2014 in Accra, the CEO abetted Seidu Agongo and Agricult Ghana Ltd to defraud COCOBOD in the sum of GHC 43,120,000.
Seidu Agongo and Agricult Ghana Ltd have also been charged with defrauding by false pretense contrary to Section 131 (1) of the Criminal Offences Act 1960 (Act29).
Again, between 2013 and November 2014, both Seidu Agongo and Agricult Ghana Ltd, with intent to defraud Ghana COCOBOD, obtained the consent of COCOBOD to part with the sum of GHC43, 120,000 by representing to COCOBOD that they would supply Lithovit Foliar Fertilizer from Germany for application by farmers in cocoa for the 2013/2014 cocoa season, a representation they knew to be false at the time of making it.
According to the writ, Stephen Opuni, between November 2014 and November 2015 abetted Seidu Agongo and Agricult Ghana Ltd. to defraud Ghana Cocoa Board to the sum of GHC 75,289, 314. Additionally, Stephen Kwabena Opuni, between October 2015 and March 2016 in Accra, again abetted Seidu Agongo and Agricult Ghana Ltd to defraud COCOBOD of the sum of GHC 98, 935,974.
Stephen Kwabena Opuni, Seidu Agongo and Agricult Ghana Ltd have therefore been charged with conspiracy to commit crime, and willfully causing financial loss to the state contrary to Sections 23 (1) and 179 A (3 ) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29).
Opuni is charged additionally with contravention of the Public Procurement Act, contrary to Section 92 (1) and 40 (1) a) of the Public Procurement Act, 2003 Act (663).
The particulars of the writ further states that in February 2014, in Accra, Stephen Opuni procured the supply of a substance described as Lithovit Liquid Fertilizer without obtaining a price quotation. He also obtained the approval for a single-source procurement from the Public Procurement Authority for the said fertilizer, without obtaining a price quotation.
Dr Opuni is also charged with procuring the supply of a substance described as Lithovit Liquid Fertilizer, using public funds, without satisfying the prescribed conditions for single-source procurement in February 2015, in Accra, while in December 2015, in Accra, he procured the supply of a substance described as Lithovit Liquid Fertilizer, using public funds without satisfying the prescribed conditions for single-source procurement.
He is charged, again, with contravention of the Public Procurement Act, contrary to Section 92 (2) c) of the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663).
The particulars of offence indicates explains that in February 2014, in Accra, Stephen Opuni influenced the procurement process by misinterpreting the facts to the Public Procurement Authority in order to obtain unfair advantage in the award of a contract to Agricult Ghana Ltd.