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General News
SFO Boss Bribed? 4/25/2007
The head of the Serious Fraud Office whose task is to expose and deal with sophisticated scam is himself embroiled in an alleged bribery scandal.

Theophilus Asharku Codjoe is accused of demanding and actually taking a bribe of five million cedis from two persons being investigated in connection with a crime.

Accordingly, the Governing Board of the S.F.O. has been petitioned to look at the alleged corrupt practice of the acting Executive Director and the Board has accordingly written to him.

On December 5 of last year, the Board Chairman, Justice N.Y.B. Adade, wrote to Mr. Codjoe requesting him to react to the allegation.

The allegation reads thus:

“While your Office was investigating Intrinsic Resources Limited, a firm that had leased Tema Steel Company from SSNIT you said there had been some financial irregularities in the conduct of the operations and that a friend of mine, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto and the wife were also involved in the irregularities. You asked to meet them in my office. I phoned them and came to meet you in my office. In my presence you demanded 5 million cedis to help them out. The next day you came to meet them in my office where they paid this amount in my presence.”

The accusation was made by James Quashie, Director of Special Duties at the Ministry of Finance.

Apart from the Board of the S.F.O., he served copies of his accusation to the Minister of Finance, the Deputy Minister of Finance, Ag. Chief Director of Finance, the Deputy Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, the Auditor-General, Audit Service and the S.F.O.

The accusation of bribery is among a catalogue of allegations the Ministry of Finance official levelled against the S.F.O. boss in a letter captioned RE: REQUEST FOR INFORMATION AND PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS PURSUANT TO S.13 OF ACT 466. The Board Chairman asked Mr. Codjoe to react to the allegation quoted above which was found on page I section 2 (a) of Mr. Quashie''s letter.

In view of the fact that Mr. Quashie''s accusatory letter was dated August 15, 2006 (some eight months ago) and the letter requesting the S.F.O. boss to reply, was written some five months ago, The Heritage called the Board Chairman to find out whether the allegation had been investigated.

Said Justice Adade: "As far as I know, we have not started investigations yet. I know he has responded, but I do not know the details yet since I''m not in Accra; currently I''m in Kumasi."

So the paper turned to the S.F.O.''s acting Executive Director for his side of the case for public consumption and this is how the boss reacted: "Listen, I have taken your paper to the National Media Com¬mission (NMC) and you still want to make allegations and stories on the SFO, or you have not been invited by the NMC?"

When the reporter responded that she was not aware of any complaint at the NMC, Mr. Codjoe said, "I am not going to make any stories for you, I am not a party to your story, if you say you are making a story and you are accepting that it is true, you do it, but I am not a party to it. Please note that there is a new NMC and, if you infringe on my personal reputation and character, I know the forum where I am taking you." He then banged the phone.

The SFO Act, 1993, states that the Serious Fraud Office is a specialised agency of Government to monitor, investigate and, on the authority of the Attorney-General, to prosecute any offence involving serious financial or economic loss to the state and to make provision for connected and incidental purposes. The office consists of an executive director, deputy executive directors, and officers and staff that the president appoints.

The government has decided to expand the mandate of the S.F.O. at a time inside stories suggest not all is well with the office. On Tuesday, April 10, the Attorney-General, Joe Ghartey, was reported by the Daily Graphic as saying that the SFO would be renamed and its mandate extended from investigating economic loss to the state to money laundering, and cyber crime among other criminal activities.

The Heritage

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