Founder of defunct Menzgold, Nana Appiah Mensah, popular known as NAM 1, has alleged that the Bank of Ghana (BoG) aided him to restructure the operations of Menzgold, the company he is accused of using to defraud more than 16,000 people of more than Ghc1.6 billion.
Counsel for NAM 1, Kwame Akuffo, told the Accra High Court yesterday that officials of the central bank advised his client to change Menzbank (the first name of Menzgold) to Menzbanc.
He, therefore, rejected a case by the prosecution that his client changed the name of Menzbank to Menzbanc and then finally to Menzgold to circumvent the Banking and Specialised Deposit -Taking Institutions Act, 2016 (Act 930) in order to carry out an illegal business.
“When the prosecution says there was change of name to circumvent Act 930, that is a false point.
This is because it was officials of BoG who advised the accused’s company to change its name from Menzbank to Menzbanc,” counsel said.
Mr Akuffo further claimed that it was the BoG that advised NAM 1 and Menzgold to set up Brew Marketing Consult (third accused) to separate the gold marketing aspect of the business from that of Menzgold.
“Indeed in meetings with the Bank of Ghana, it was the BoG that recommended that the third accused company be set up in order to ensure that the gold marketing business was kept distinct from the business of Menzgold,” he added.
He said he would not mention the names of the BoG officials who gave the advice to his client, but said at the appropriate time during the trial, he would subpoena them to testify to aid the defence of his client.
“I put my integrity on the line as a lawyer of 25 years standing and say when we come to trial, we will prove all these,’ he said.
Mr Akuffo made the submissions during an application for bail for NAM1, and also in response to the facts of the case as read by a Deputy A-G, Alfred Tuah-Yeboah.
Counsel who said he was pointing out several “deficits in the facts’ presented by the prosecution further wondered why his client was not charged with a single offence relating to a violation of the Securities Industry Act, 2016 (Act 929), although it was the Securities and Exchange Commission which closed down the operations of Menzgold.
“It was SEC that closed down the accused person’s business on the basis that the accused was operating without a license from SEC, and yet of the 39 counts before court, none of the counts involved a violation of Act 929.
That is remarkable,” counsel added.
Meanwhile, NAM 1 pleaded not guilty to 39 counts, ranging from violation of Act 930, defrauding by false pretence, fraudulent breach of trust and money laundering.
Following a bail application by Mr Akuffo, which was not opposed by the court presided over by Dr Ernest Owusu - Dapaa, a Justice of the Court of Appeal sitting as an additional High Court judge, admitted NAM 1 to bail in the sum of Ghc500million, with four sureties.
As part of the bail conditions, Justice Owusu- Dapaa further ordered NAM 1 to deposit his passport with the Registrar of the Court, and also report to the headquarters of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) every Thursday.
Hearing continues on October 27, 2023.