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CDD Vs Cecilia Dapaah: More questions emerge over alleged stolen cash

CDD Vs Cecilia Daapah: More questions emerge over alleged stolen cash
Cecilia Dapaah

By Seth Ayiah

The Center for Democratic Development, CDD-Ghana has registered its dismay over the latest twists and turns in Cecilia Dapaah’s case.

CDD-Ghana, in a statement said the Office of the Attorney-General had, in a letter addressed to the Economic and Organised Crime Office, EOCO, dated April 25, 2024, advised EOCO not to investigate suspected money laundering in connection with certain monies found at the private residences of Mrs Cecilia Dapaah, a former Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources. It said this followed a request for directions, ostensibly made to the A-G by EOCO following EOCO’s receipt of a referral from the Office of Special Prosecutor, OSP, concerning Mrs Dapaah’s case.

It said the referral from the OSP had noted that while the OSP’s investigations had “identified strong indications of suspected money laundering and structuring, such matters fell outside the OSP’s statutory mandate but are well within the EOCO’s mandate, hence the referral. It said the action of EOCO in requesting directions from the A-G without first acting on the referral from the OSP to initiate its own investigation of the matter seemed oddly contrived.

The statement said in its advice to EOCO not to proceed with investigation of the matter, the AG said it found no grounds to warrant such an investigation because the OSP had not made any findings of criminal activity that would serve as a predicate offense for a money laundering case. It said the AG further stated that an investigation by EOCO into the Cecilia Dapaah matter is not necessary since the AG had apparently instructed the Criminal Investigations Division, CID, of the Ghana Police Service some eight months ago to investigate the source of the money found at Mrs. Dapaah’s residence.

The CDD said the upshot of the AG’s advice is that the Cecilia Dapaah matter is over. Case closed.

Once again, a high-profile case of suspected or alleged criminal conduct implicating a politically influential person has been terminated abruptly without proper credible resolution or closure. It said it is not clear in what way the forced termination of further investigation into this matter by the AG serves either the public interest or helps the reputation of the target of the investigation.

The statement said it is hard to believe that, after over eight months of investigation following the alleged theft of one million dollars and 300 thousand euro cash from the home of Mrs Dapaah, the subsequent discovery of another 590 thousand dollars and two million 730 thousand in cash by the OSP in Madam Dapaah’s properties, not to mention the huge balances held in investment and bank accounts, Ghanaians could not get a simple satisfactory answer from any public agency as to the source of these monies.

The CDD said the fact that the money in aggregate, apparently exceeds the former Minister’s known or verifiable income should raise legitimate questions or reasonable suspicion or doubt as to their source.

It said continuing to investigate this matter to establish the source of the monies is therefore eminently justifiable under the circumstances.

The CDD said the idea that unexplained wealth can give rise to a reasonable suspicion or even a presumption of illegality of the source of such wealth is a principle embraced by the 1992 Constitution.

It said notably, Article 286 (4) of the Constitution, in the chapter on the Code of Conduct for Public Officers, makes it clear, in the context of the asset declaration regime, that assets of a declarant that are “not reasonably attributable to income, gift, loan, inheritance or any other reasonable source shall be deemed to have been acquired in contravention of this Constitution.

The statement said it is the same principle or presumption that justified at least a credible investigation in this matter. It noted that it is instructive that Mrs Dapaah refused to complete a Statement of Income and Property form during the OSP investigation. CDD said so far, no other agency is known to have asked to see Mrs Dapaah’s asset declaration record or appears interested in getting to the bottom of this matter in order to bring it to a satisfactory closure.

It reiterated that having been provided with a docket containing various exhibits, statements by about twenty individuals, as well as the bare fact of the quantum of the monies found in the properties associated with Mrs Dapaah and her spouse, one would have expected EOCO to proceed with its own investigations, instead of seeking the AG’s legal advice on prosecution at that early pre-investigative stage.

CDD-Ghana noted with great disappointment that the abrupt or inconclusive manner in which this matter has ended fits a pattern in terms of the Nana Akufo-Addo Administration’s general attitude and response to scandals and allegations or reported incidents of criminal conduct, corruption or other financial malfeasance involving persons closely associated with the Government or the ruling New Patriotic Party, NPP.

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