The Office of the Attorney General has closed its case in the trial of former Chief Executive Officer of Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC), Sedina Tamakloe Attionu, who is being tried in absentia for allegedly causing over GH¢93 million financial loss to the state.
Charged along the former John Mahama appointee is Daniel Axim who was the former Operations Manager at MASLCO under whose watch the alleged misuse of public funds took place.
The prosecution led by Stella Ohene Appiah, a Principal State Attorney yesterday closed its case after the court discharged the case investigator, Kodua Panyin, following the failure of counsel for Mr Axim to show up and conclude his cross-examination.
Augustines Obuor, counsel for Mr Axim had one hour left to cross-examine the case investigator but did not show up for the trial yesterday and the accused told court the lawyer was indisposed although he could not provide any proof to the court.
The Court presided over by Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe, a Justice of the Court of Appeal sitting as an additional High Court Judge then asked the accused to do the cross-examination himself as she was not going to adjourn the case.
She said she has to manage the case in a way that would allow the substantive judge in that court to also get time to do his work.
“My Lady, respectfully, I won’t be able to do that. My lawyer would be the best to do that. As he has indicated that he will come on 22 (June), I pray that that will be granted for me,” Mr. Axim requested.
Justice Asare-Botwe indicated that the case was adjourned to yesterday at the instance of Mr. Obour so she would not adjourn the case when there is no report before the court and the accused could not also show even a text message from the lawyer showing that he was indeed indisposed.
She added that Mr. Obuor could have sent any of his juniors to conduct the case for him but failed to do so, adding that “What you people are doing is making the court ineffective.”
She, therefore, ordered Mr. Axim to conduct the cross-examination himself but the accused said “my Lady, personally I don’t have any question for the witness.”
The court subsequently discharged the witness and the prosecution indicated that would be the end of their case after calling four witnesses.
Parties in the case were given up to July 7, to file their submissions while the court has set July 31 to rule whether the prosecution has made a case against the accused persons for them to open their defence.
Ms Attionu and Mr Axim are facing 80 counts of conspiracy, stealing, unauthorised commitment resulting in a financial obligation for the government, improper payment, money laundering and contravention of the Public Procurement Act.
They allegedly stole a total of GH¢3,198,280 whiles at MASLOC and willfully caused a GH¢1,973,780 financial loss to the state.
Again, Ms. Attionu and her accomplice according to the facts while in charge at MASLOC made unauthorized commitments resulting in financial obligations for the government to the tune of GH¢61,735,832.50.
The charges against the two also include GH¢22,158,118.85 loss to public property and improper payment of GH¢273,743.66 as well as money laundering of GH¢3,704,380.
Trial In Absentia
The court on February 24, 2023, granted an application by the prosecution conduct the trial in the absence of Attionu, after she fled to the United States in 2021 and has since refused to return for the trial.
The court, prior to that on January 24, 2023, ordered the former Chief Executive Officer of Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), Alex Mould and actor, Gavivina Tamakloe to pay the GH¢5 million bail bond to the state for their failure to produce the accused person whom they stood sureties for.