File photo: Gavel

An Accra Circuit Court will on March 18, 2024, begin the trial of three persons accused of embezzling GH₵382,221 depositors’ funds of a church’s credit union.

The accused include Jospeh Acheampong, a Consultant/Manager, Kenneth Osei-Ansong, a Recovery Officer, and Esther Ofori, a Cashier at Christian Pentecostal Church.

The three have been charged with conspiracy and stealing. They have denied the charges, and they are on bail.

However, when the matter was called before the court presided over by Mrs Kizita Koowa Quashie on Monday, the defence counsel for Esther Ofori was ordered to produce her in court at the next sitting.

Esther was not present when the case was called, which is why the judge issued the order.

Mr John Baptist Agbedza, Esther’s lawyer, informed the court that Esther was ill and that they were willing to submit a medical report confirming her condition.

The prosecution led by Superintendent of Police Augustus Yirenkyi said Esther had been hiding under the guise of illness.

The court thus granted Esther’s lawyer one more chance to present her for trial, which would begin at the next sitting.

The fact of the case is that the complainant is Apostle Daniel Obeng, the head pastor of Christian Pentecostal Church (CPC), Kwashieman.

The prosecution said that in 2015, Acheampong joined the CPC and persuaded the leadership to establish the Christian Pentecostal Credit Union.

Acheampong convinced them that he was a banker and would successfully help CPC establish their credit union.

As a result, he was given the mandate to set up and run the credit union, and he employed the two other accused people, who visited church members at their homes and offices to collect contributions.

According to the prosecution, in 2018, Kwabena Yeboah and Frank Mensah Bonsu, depositors at the Christian Pentecostal Credit Union, attempted to collect funds lodged with the credit union but were unsuccessful.

They raised the issue to the complainant and then reported the incident to the police.

Police investigations revealed that the accused persons collected GHC382,212 from other depositors and failed to repay them.

The prosecution said Acheampong was arrested, and police retrieved documents from the credit union as well as GHC3,100 in cash during a search of his residence.

Apostle Daniel Obeng, the complainant, confirmed in his statement to the police that the accused persons oversaw running the credit union.

The prosecution said some statements were taken from depositors.

Acheampong has denied any wrongdoing and explained that the credit union run into “liquidity difficulties.”