After more than 2 years of trial, 3 former appointees of the immediate past National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration have been sentenced to a total of 16 years by the Accra High Court for causing financial loss of $3 million to the state.
In Ghana, the criminal offences code section 179A of the Criminal Code, 1960 (ACT 29) addresses financial loss to the state.
(1) Any person who by a wilful act or omission causes loss, damage or injury to the property of any public body or any agency of the State commits an offence.
(2) Any person who in the course of any transaction or business with a public body or any agency of the State intentionally causes damage or loss whether economic or otherwise to the body or agency commits an offence.
(3) Any person through whose wilful, malicious or fraudulent action or omission—
(a) the State incurs a financial loss; or
(b) the security of the State is endangered, commits an offence.
(4) In this section “public body” includes the State, Government of Ghana, public board or corporation, public institution and any company or other body in which the State or a public corporation or other statutory body has a proprietory interest.
The Accra High Court, presided over by Justice Eric Kyei Baffour, has sentenced the former board chair of the National Communications Authority (NCA), Eugene Baffoe Bonnie, to six years in prison.
The former NCA Director-General,William Tevie, also was sentenced five years while a former deputy National Security Coordinator, Alhaji Salifu Mimina Osman, was sentenced to five years imprisonment.
They were found guilty in the case involving the purchase of a $4-million cyber security surveillance equipment, known as the Pegasus machine, for the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS), which was sponsored by the National Communications Authority (NCA).
William Tevie and Alhaji Osman were both found guilty on the charges of conspiracy to willfully cause financial loss to the state, contravention of public procurement act and intentionally misapplying public property.
They were, however, acquitted and discharged on charges of stealing, conspiracy to steal and using public office for personal benefit.
A businessman, Derrick Oppong, who was among the five standing trial, was, however, acquitted and discharged on all charges against him.
Nana Owusu Ensaw, a former Board Member, was also acquitted and discharged by the Court of Appeal before Tuesday’s judgement and sentencing.
The judge, Justice Kyei Baffour, during his judgement, ordered the Attorney General to seize assets of the convicts amounting to the tune of three $3 million. The remaining $1 million of the $4 million has already been refunded to the state.
Baffoe-Bonnie will serve more years in prison because the court held that he personally benefited from the deal to the tune of $200,000.
Before the judge pronounced the sentences, lawyers for the convicts had prayed the court to temper justice with mercy on the basis that their clients were first-time offenders.
The case, which was initiated in December 2017, was the first criminal prosecution by the Attorney-General (A-G), Ms Gloria Akuffo, against officials in the previous administration accused of corruption.
The $4-million NCA scandal happened in 2016.
The prosecution presented a case that, hiding under the guise of perceived terrorism threats against the country, the three convicts decided to dissipate state funds by hatching a plan to purchase a cyber security equipment which was supposed to be used to monitor and listen to phone calls of suspected terrorists.