An Accra High Court has ordered the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) to lift the ban on the bank accounts of embattled former chief executive officer of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Dr. Stephen Kwabena Opuni.The assets and bank accounts of the former COCOBOD boss were frozen by the anti-graft body in February 2017 following investigations into some contracts he allegedly signed during his tenure and financial irregularities uncovered by the new administration.
The probe was centered on some supposed fraudulent multi-million dollar contracts he was believed to have signed before leaving office.
He has since been dragged to court together with Seidu Agongo, managing director of Agricult Ghana Limited and owner of Heritage Bank, for causing financial loss to the state.
The two are facing a total of 27 charges, including defrauding by false pretence, willfully causing financial loss to the state, money laundering, corruption by a public officer and contravention of the Public Procurement Act.
Following the freezing of his assets, his lawyers, Samuel Codjoe and Eduzi Tameklo, on April 13 filed a motion asking the court to order EOCO to unfreeze Dr. Opuni’s accounts.
State Attorneys did not oppose the motion and the court, presided over by Justice Georgina Mensah-Datsa, granted the motion and asked EOCO to unfreeze the bank accounts forthwith.
The affected accounts are those at Standard Chartered Bank and Ecobank Ghana Limited.
Dr. Opuni was on January 12, 2017 asked to vacate office barely a week after the NPP government was inaugurated.
The former CEO of the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) was appointed by former President John Mahama on November 30, 2013 to head COCOBOD.
He and his alleged accomplice have each been granted GH¢300,000 self-recognizance bail.
As part of the bail conditions, the two are to deposit their Ghanaian passports with the Director General of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service.
They are also to write to the director of the CID any time they wish to travel out of the country.
The Attorney General, Gloria Afua Akuffo, has indicated that the ex-COCOBOD boss could face up to 25 years’ jail term if found guilty of receiving GH¢25,000 bribe from businessman, Seidu Agongo.
The trial has however, been put on hold as the court awaits the Supreme Court to interpret Article 19 Clause 2 E and G of the 1992 Constitution to determine whether he (Opuni) deserves to be given prosecution documents days ahead of the court proceedings.