SSNIT OBS case: Ernest Thompson, 4 others plead not guilty to charges

The former Director-General (DG) of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), Mr Ernest Thompson and four others who are standing trial for allegedly causing financial loss to the state have pleaded not guilty to 29 charges.

The other accused persons in the matter are Mr. John Hagan Mensah, a former Information Technology (IT) Manager at SSNIT; Ms. Juliet Hassana Kramer, the Chief Executive Officer of Perfect Business Systems (PBS); Mr. Caleb Kwaku Afaglo, a former Head of Management Information Systems (MIS) at SSNIT; and Mr. Peter Hayibor, the lawyer for SSNIT.

They have been slapped with a total of 29 including willfully causing financial loss to the state, conspiracy to cause financial loss to the state, defrauding by false pretense and contravention of public procurement authority act and authoring of forged documents.

The former DG, Hagan and Ms Kramer have been charged with willfully causing financial loss of more than US$24million to the state.

Afaglo, the Head of MIS was accused of gaining employment at SSNIT with fake certificates while Hayibor, the lawyer, is alleged to have known the alleged illegal transactions concerning the OBS at SSNIT.

Self-recognizance bail

In court on Thursday, May 20, after the Supreme Court had declared earlier that, the particulars of the charges were scanty, their plea on the amended charge sheet was taken.

All the five accused persons one after the other pleaded not guilty and were granted self-recognizance bail by the court, presided over by Mr Justice Henry Kwofi.

Lawyers of the accused persons including Samuel Codjoe one after the other prayed the Court to admit the accused persons to their previous bail terms.

It was their respective arguments that their clients have been cooperative with the court ever since they were first arraigned on July 24, 2018.

AG on bail

Richard Gyembiby, a Principal State Attorney told the court that, prosecution do not have any reason to be Live that, the accused persons will not appear in court to stand trial when granted bail.

He, therefore, did not oppose the application for bail as argued by the accused person.

Prosecution also relied on the previous facts sheet resented in court on July 24, 2018 when the accused persons were first arraigned.

The lawyers of the accused persons did not object to the prosecution’s reliance on the previous facts sheet since they are the same.

By court

The trial judge after listening to the parties said having regards to the sentiments expressed by counsel of all accused persons regarding the fact that, the charges have not changed, and they have consistently presented themselves whenever the case was called, the court admit them to their previous bail.

Consequently, the court admitted on the same self-recognizance bail it granted them on July 24, 2018.

Brief facts

The facts of the case according to the prosecution was that, in 2010, SSNIT embarked on the implementation of the OBS to provide state of the art pension administration.

According to the prosecution, the contract sum was around US$34m and SSNIT advertised for bids for the project.

But awarded it to a consortium which included PBS, although PBS did not partake in the bidding

The Prosecution said, Thompson, Juliet and Afaglo caused SSNIT to pay additional money for items that were already covered by the contract.

The project according to prosecution ballooned to around $66million.

The former DG according to prosecution made payments that were above his threshold as Director-General of SSNIT.

Afaglo, the prosecution said used fake certificates to gain employment at SSNIT.

The case has been adjourned to May 26 for Case Management Conference.

—kasapafm

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