Mr Kissi Agyebeng, the Special Prosecutor, says his office has halted investigations on Ms Cecilia Abena Dapaah, and handed over the pursuit to the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO).
He said so far investigations done by both his Office and FBI pointed towards money laundering and that his office lacked the mandate to pursue offences related to money laundering and structuring.
Mr Agyebeng made this known at a press conference shortly after it announced to an Accra High Court its decisions to discontinue the cases involving Ms Dapaah and her spouse, Mr. Daniel Osei-Kufour.
He said, “a little over an hour ago,” the Office discontinued an application pending before the High Court for a confirmation of the seizure and freezing orders in pursuance of the referral of the case to EOCO.
The Court ordered a return of the seized cash sums and unfreezing of the bank accounts and investments within 72 hours.
The Office also discontinued the procedural criminal charge against Ms. Dapaah for failure to return forms on declaration of property and income.
Mr Agyebeng said extensive investigation was conducted in-country involving 20 persons and three State Institutions, and especially in the Ashanti Region to establish the financial standing of Ms. Dapaah’s deceased brother during his lifetime and at the time of his death.
He said from October 2023, the investigation became cross-border and transboundary upon the claim by the persons of interest that part of the seized cash sums was transported to Ghana from the United States.
For that reason, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the United States got involved in a collaborative investigative work with the Office on the matter.
The investigation has been aimed at determining the source(s) of the large cash sums associated with Ms. Dapaah and Mr Osei Kufuor.
He said after nearly seven months of extensive investigation by the OSP and a parallel inquiry by the FBI, no direct and immediate evidence of corruption has been found in the seized funds and frozen bank accounts linked to Ms. Dapaah and her associates.
He said the Office had officially transferred the investigation into the financial affairs and assets of the former Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources, along with her associates, to EOCO
The Special Prosecutor said the investigation had identified strong indications of suspected money laundering and structuring, while the Office acknowledged these suspected offences, they did not fall directly within the mandate of the Office By law, the office could not investigate, prosecute nor recover proceeds of crime except those that fall within corruption and corruption related offences as defined under section 79 of the Office of the Special Prosecutor Act, 2017 (Act 959).
In compliance with section 3 of Act 959, which mandates the Office to cooperate and coordinate with other law enforcement agencies, the case has been transferred to EOCO for further investigation.
“In August 2023, the OSP acted by freezing Ms. Dapaah’s bank accounts and confiscating 5590,000 dollars and GH¢2.73 million from her residence after news of theft of substantial amount of cash in cedis and foreign currencies went viral,” he added.
He said until today, the Office had been in court to confirm the frozen bank accounts and confirm the seized monies for longer periods pending outcome of investigations. A portion of the inquiry was entrusted to the FBI due to allegations suggesting involvement of transfer of funds from the United States.
He said one of the “contemporary legal problems that confront us as a country is the movement and the stashing of large sums of cash with its attendant likelihood of distorting economies.”
Ordinarily, it is not unlawful for a person to move or keep large cash sums as long as the money was lawfully acquired.
He said, “after all,” it was the person’s money and as owner, that person might choose to do what pleases that person with that person’s money.
The Special Prosecutor said the important consideration was that the holder of large cash sums should be able to account for same as to the lawfulness of the source.
“Therefore, where the source of the money is cast in some considerable doubt, then legal hurdles are raised, and questions are posed,” he added.