Former MASLOC boss charged, over GH¢129.5m missing cash
A former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC), Sedina Christine Tamakloe Attionu, has been hauled before the Accra High Court by the Attorney-General (A-G) for allegedly causing financial loss of more than GH¢129.5 million to the state.
Attionu, who was the boss of MASLOC from November 2013 to January 2017, has been charged together with Daniel Axim, a former Operations Manager of MASLOC.
The two have been charged with 80 counts, including stealing, conspiracy, wilfully causing financial loss to the state and causing loss to public property.
Other charges are improper payment of public funds, unauthorized commitment resulting in a financial obligation for the government, money laundering and contravention of the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663).
Attionu and Axim are expected to appear before the Criminal Division of the Accra High Court on Monday, February 4, 2019, to answer to the charges leveled against them.
Attionu’s prosecution is the fourth bordering on ‘causing financial loss to the state’ and procurement infractions initiated by the A-G, Ms. Gloria Afua Akuffo, against government officials in the immediate past administration.
Already, the A-G is prosecuting Dr. Stephen Kwabena Opuni, a former CEO of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Ernest Thompson, a former Director-General of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) and William Tetteh-Tevie, a former Director-General of the National Communications Authority (NCA).
The A-G’s Department has a litany of allegations against Attionu and Axim in the facts that accompanied the charge sheet filed at the court.
For instance, it accused Attionu of embezzling GH¢500,000 that was paid by a company which benefitted from MASLOC support in 2014.
It is the case of the A-G that MASLOC gave a loan of GH¢500,000 to the company, Obaatanpa Micro-finance Limited, but the company returned the money because of the high interest of 24 percent that the loan attracted.
According to the A-G, Obaatanpa Limited presented a cheque for GH¢500,000 to Attionu, but she refused and demanded cash payment.
“A cash amount of GH¢500,000 was delivered to the first accused person (Attionu) by the Board Chairman of Obaatanpa in the night of 28th August 2014 at the Baatsona Total Filling Station located on the Spintex Road in Accra.”
“By a letter dated 28th August 2014, the first accused (Attionu) acknowledged receipt of the refund. Investigations subsequently showed that MASLOC had no record of the amount having been paid to it and that Attionu had appropriated the amount of GH¢500,000,” the A-G said.
Another accusation by the A-G is that in April 2016, the MASLOC’s board approved a sum of GH¢1.7 million to be used for nationwide sensitization for 85,300 MASLOC beneficiaries, but Attionu and Axim withdrew GH¢1.82 million from MASLOC’s accounts for the sensitization programme.
“Investigations revealed that out of the sum of GH¢1.82 million, only GH¢1,300 was spent on refreshment for some beneficiaries in the Volta, Greater Accra and Brong Ahafo regions and that no programme whatsoever took place in the other seven regions.
“Investigations also revealed that prior to the board’s approval, the first accused person (Attionu) had appropriated GH¢246,280 meant for training, sensitization and financial literacy,’’ the A-G said.
Kantamanto fire support
It is also the case of the A-G that in 2013, following a fire disaster at the Kantamanto Market, then President John Mahama directed MASLOC to provide assistance of GH¢1.46 million to victims of the disaster but Attionu embezzled part of the money.
“The money was, however, to be disbursed through Dwadifo Adamfo Savings and Loans Company Limited (Dwadifo Adamfo). Investigations showed that the first accused person (Attionu) appropriated GH¢579,800 out of the GH¢1.46 million,” the A-G said.
Alleged procurement breaches
The A-G further stated that Attionu inflated the price of certain items that MASLOC purchased during her tenure, and in some instances signed procurement contracts without approval from the Public Procurement Authority (PPA).
According to the A-G, on December 6, 2016, Attionu signed a contract with Mac Autos to supply MASLOC with 350 vehicles without any approval from the PPA.
The vehicles, the AG said, included Chevy Sparklite, Isuzu buses and Chevy Aveo.
“The unit price offered by Mac Autos to MASLOC for the Chevy Aveo was GH¢74,495 ($18,883.39).”
However, investigations revealed that the actual retail price Mac Autos offered for the same model within the same year without duty was GH¢47,346.93 ($12,009.91).
“The unit price offered for the Chevy Sparklite was GH¢65,095 ($16,500.63) when the actual price offered by Mac Autos within that same period without duty was GH¢35,918.37 ($9,104.77).”
“For the Isuzu 33 seater buses, the unit price offered to MASLOC was GH¢445,560 ($112,942.96) but the actual retail price without duty was GH¢293,877.55 ($74,493.67),’’ the A-G said.
Again, the A-G accused Attionu of inflating the price of 200 pieces of mobile phones that MASLOC had bought for a project in November 2016 known as PINCO Project Market Survey.
“Investigations revealed that although the actual open market price of the phones was GH¢24,400, the first accused person (Attionu) purchased them at the inflated price of GH¢93,412,’’ the A-G added.