Prosecution still awaiting AG’s advice on NAM 1’s case – ASP Asare tells court
State prosecution is still awaiting the Attorney General’s advice with the case in which the CEO of defunct Menzgold Limited, Nana Appiah Mensah (NAM1), has been arraigned.
Two years after he was arrested for allegedly defrauding thousands of people with his investment scheme, the embattled CEO is yet to be charged.
The state is also yet to file processes for the trial to commence.
When the case was called on Monday, the prosecutor leading the team Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Slyvester Asare, informed the court “they are still waiting for the AG’s advice on how the case shall proceed”.
The trial judge Evelyn Asamoah was compelled to adjourn the case to November 22, 2021.
The embattled CEO who was in court had his hands folded across his chest.
The latest development makes it at least 15 times that the case has been adjourned as victims wait in vain to retrieve their investments.
Tale of adjournments as NAM 1 enjoys temporary freedom
Nana Appiah Mensah was first arraigned before an Accra Circuit Court on Friday, July 12, 2019, after months of detention in Dubai.
He was remanded for two weeks to reappear on July 26, 2019, but was granted bail that same day. He was granted bail in the sum of GH¢1 billion, with five sureties.
The trial was then set to continue in August. On August 12, 2019, the prosecution said investigations were ongoing.
There was no show on October 23, 2019, as the substantive prosecutor ASP Slyvester Asare was not present in court.
He had written formally to inform the court and prayed for an adjournment.
On November 20, 2019, state prosecutors again pleaded with the circuit court judge for a long adjournment in the trial of the Menzgold CEO.
ASP Asare told the court the state would prefer January 2020 to commence the trial of the embattled businessman and his wife Rose Tetteh and his sister Benedicta Mensah. The two accomplices are still at large.
On December 23, 2019, the case was adjourned when the prosecutor informed the court that it had sent the docket to the Attorney-General’s department for study and advice.
On March 5, 2020, Madam Evelyn Asamoah, who was unhappy with the prosecution’s handling of the case, said she would be forced to discharge the accused persons.
An excited NAM 1, who was in court, could only stifle a smile and pray the judge make good on her promise.
On April 6, 2020, the judge, however, took leave. For some reason, the judge’s leave coincided with NAM 1’s next date, leaving NAM 1 combing the streets of Accra in his Toyota Land Cruiser.
When the judge resumed in July, it was the prosecution’s time to drag their feet. They asked for more time to conduct further investigations.
The prosecutor was expected to have filed its new charges for Nana Appiah Mensah for the court to take his plea on Monday, July 20, 2020, but it did not happen.
However, the prosecutor, ASP Asare, told the circuit court that “the principal state attorney was working seriously to advise the court concerning the case” and prayed for a long adjournment.
He added that the prosecution would inform the court of its intention.
“We also ask that in the event that the adjournment is granted and advise ready, we will issue a hearing notice to the accused persons to appear before the court to do the needful,” ASP Asare stated on Monday, July 20, 2020.
But that promise never saw the light of day.
Fast forward to November 4, 2020; the case was adjourned after the clerk announced that the judge had taken leave for the second time.
“The judge [Evelyn Asamoah] is on leave, so we have been instructed to adjourn all the cases for today, [Friday],” the clerk informed court patrons.
When she resumed on December 16, last year, the court adjourned the case following ASP Asare’s plea that investigations were still ongoing.
As it stands now, the Menzgold CEO is not aware of the charges against him since the prosecution team, on June 24, 2020, withdrew the 61 charges, which included money laundering.
At the beginning of the new year, thousands of people who had fallen victim to NAM 1’s scheme hoped justice would be served to them on a plate.
But eights months into 2021, it is the same tune that has left depositors shattered while NAM 1 smiles at his Trassaco residence.
On March 2, 2021, the trial judge warned that she would strike out the case if the prosecution did not order their house. The judge again directed that the prosecution file the necessary documents to enable the trial to commence.
But somehow, the universe appeared tilted to NAM 1’s side because the judge took leave for the third time and adjourned the case to May 27, 2021.
On May 27, 2021, the prosecutor had one request – more time to build a watertight case against the embattled CEO.
He came to court to woo the judge with another adjournment speech.
“At the last sitting, my lady made the orders that prosecution files the necessary processes. Be it as it may, the prosecution is unable to file the processes on time as directed by this court. We submit that in all humility, this is not deliberate to delay or disrespect the order of this court.
“The records will show that at the last sitting, we indicated and pleaded with the court, as it is, in the interest of justice. This morning (Thursday), we are again on bended knees. Although standing, we ask that you give us the necessary ear.
“My principal (Attorney General’s office) is not sleeping on this matter. We will ensure that we file the necessary processes. We pray that in the interest of justice, my lady grants an adjournment to enable parties to put their house in order,” ASP Asare pleaded.
The trial judge conceded and adjourned to July 6, 2021.
But on July 6, 2021, NAM 1 failed to come to court due to a ‘miraculous’ cough.
The embattled businessman’s lawyer Audrey Twum who explained his absence, said, “NAM 1 has been coughing profusely and has been advised to seek medical care”.
The case was adjourned to Thursday, September 2, 2021, but the prosecutor was not present.
Lawyers for NAM 1 said the state is yet to file its processes.
On October 11, the state informed the court they were still waiting on the Attorney General’s advice on how to proceed.
The tale continues on November 22, 2021.
Facts present before court
The facts of the case were that in October 2018, the police received a complaint from about 16,000 people that Menzgold had convinced them to invest GH¢1.68 billion in a gold purchase scheme that yielded 10% monthly interest.
According to the prosecution, the complainants said their money was locked up and that they could not find Nana Appiah Mensah and the other principal officers of the company.
The prosecutor said investigations revealed that Menzgold and Brew Marketing Consult were incorporated as limited liability companies in 2013 and 2016, respectively.
Menzgold, he said, obtained a license from the Minerals Commission in August 2016 to purchase and export gold from small-scale miners.
Nana Mensah founded Brew Marketing Consult to be a gold buying agent to engage in the business successfully.
ASP Asare said although Menzgold was licensed to purchase gold, it was not licensed by the Minerals Commission to trade in gold.
Notwithstanding the lack of such a licence, he said, Menzgold went public after its incorporation and invited the public to deposit money for a fixed period with interest on the pretext of gold purchasing.
The prosecutor said further investigations revealed that the three accused persons were the directors and principal officers of Menzgold and Brew Marketing Consult.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) later directed Menzgold to suspend its gold trading operations with the public.
The Commission revealed that the aspect of Menzgold’s business, which involves the purchase/deposit of gold collectables from the public and contracts issued with guaranteed returns with clients, was a capital market activity (issuance of gold-backed depository notes to the public) under Act 929 without a valid licence issued by SEC contrary to Section 109 of Act 929 with consequences under section 206 (1) of the same act.”
The Bank of Ghana (BoG) also saw the operations of Menzgold as a form of deposit-taking.
Without a licence from the central bank, the Menzgold business was declared to have violated the Banks and Specialised Deposit-Taking Institutions Act, 2016.
The two regulatory bodies decided to shut down the operations of Menzgold.
But NAM 1 fought back, insisting that his business was legal and did not need approval from the SEC and BoG.
Menzgold decided to sue BoG and SEC for shutting down its business, describing the action as “premature, hasty, arbitrary and clearly intended to affect its accrued rights and customers in a prejudicial manner.”
The company was seeking a declaration that the order by the SEC constitutes “an abuse of its discretionary powers and is arbitrary, capricious and contrary to Articles 23 and 296 of the 1992 Constitution.”
However, the Accra High Court dismissed the suit.
Nana Appiah Mensah was arrested over the charges after returning to Ghana from a business trip to Dubai.
After meeting his revised bail conditions, he was later released from police custody on August 17, 2019.
Earlier, the court had varied the bail conditions to allow five sureties to guarantee his bail without showing evidence of having properties worth the GH¢1 billion bail sum.
The court, however, refused a request by counsel for Nana Appiah for a reduction in the bail sum from GH¢1 billion to GH¢20 million.
On July 26, 2019, the court ordered three of the five sureties to show justification, meaning they must prove they had properties or interests worth the GH¢1 billion bail sum.
As part of the bail conditions, he is also to report to the Ghana Police Service every Wednesday.