Charles Opoku-Darko, one of the suspects in the US$51 million fraud which landed Nana Appiah Mensah alias NAM1 in Dubai jail, has revealed a clear case of Money laundering by his co-suspect, Adentunji Adewoye Olorunfemi, the Nigerian owner of Just Gold Ghana Limited, through a real estate business he – Charles – runs.
Nana Appiah Mensah Charles-Opoku Darko
The man with a political connections which runs deep into the heart of the Presidency, disclosed in an interview, the Nigerian, had expressed interest in buying some six houses from his company; CODCO Limited, but changed his mind and collected the money shortly after the Financial Intelligence Center (IFC), had through a court order defrost Charles’ bank account to have access to the money allegedly paid him for the houses.
Interestingly, Dr. KK Amoah, formerly of EOCO, has revealed his knowledge of the two individual saying “I am aware that the matter is still under CID investigation, that there is a warrant for the arrest of the person called Ade, and that Charles Darko, has been arrested, granted bail, and been reporting to the CID”, but The Herald’s information is that, Opoku-Darko, has been outside the country for some months seeking medical treatment.
Adentunji, reportedly wired US$10 million to CODCO Limited’s bank account, which The Herald has since confirmed to be at Fidelity Bank East Legon branch, to purchase six houses from Mr. Opoku-Darko’s company.
Speaking to a celebrity website ameyawdebrah.com, Mr. Opoku-Darko alias “Chairman” said his friend Adentunji, had requested to buy six houses from him, and after signing the contract documents, a bank transaction was made as payment for the houses.
He said: “However, when I was going to withdraw some of the money that was when I realized that the account had been frozen by EOCO. I was invited by EOCO and I explained and presented documents showing the purpose of the transaction.”
A document released by CODCO Limited entitled “Six Executive Type Houses at Fanfy near A n C Shopping Mall” vaguely gave details of the properties as House No. 9, which was sold at US$900,000, House No 10 sold at US$900,000, House No 11 sold at 900.000 and House No 12 sold at US$900, 000.
Interestingly, the document mentioned House No 13, as sold at US$3,000, 000, while an apartment building went for US$1, 200,000, bringing the total amount to US$7.8 million paid by Just Gold Ghana Limited, whose office address Mr Opoku-Darko, gave as 2nd Boundary Road East Legon – Accra.
Mr Opoku-Darko, who also operates a couple of Forex Bureaus, had gone through a grueling ordeal at the hands of EOCO and FIC, immediately the money landed in CODCO’s bank account from Unibank Ghana Limited, who were the bankers of Just Gold Ghana Limited.
Series of investigations began leading to the arrest of Mr Opoku-Darko by EOCO to justify the payment into his bank account.
According to Mr Opoku-Darko, the services of a lawyer which Dr. K K Amoah, has identified as Augustine Obour, were procured leading to the release of monies paid CODCO by Adentunji’s Just Gold.
Mr Opoku-Darko, revealed that “Adentunji paid for the services of a lawyer on his own, and eventually the funds were released” but shortly after the release of the money, Adentunji, announced his disinterest in the six houses and wanted his money back.
“I wanted to transfer the money to his account but his accounts had been frozen so I signed for him to withdraw his money from my account and terminated the sale of the houses. I have no business with him and whatever he went to do in Dubai. I have a lot of people buying properties from me, I cannot know how they all get their money to pay me,” Mr. Opoku-Darko.
‘I don’t know why I am being added up to this whole scandal. I have not collected money from Ghanaians. I have not done any business with NAM1 and Ade. I didn’t follow either of them to go and sign any business transaction in Dubai. I don’t know anything about this,” he told the ameyawdebrah.com in a phone conversation from his base outside Ghana.
Mr Opoku-Darko, who confirmed he is seeking medical treatment outside Ghana, insisted the allegations against him were untrue, but admitted that some transactions were made into his bank account, but that they were in connection with houses that Adentunji wanted to buy from him.
Interestingly, a letter purported to be written by Just Gold Limited, acknowledging GHC35.1 million, the cedi equivalent of US$7.8 million (GHC4.5 in February 2018) refund, had the signature of a certain Gloria Serwa Brakatu, signing as an Administrative Secretary of Just Gold. The one-page letter dated May 30, 2018, was released by Charles.
However, another document; bank transaction released by Mr Opoku-Darko, showed Adentuji’s Just Gold paying a total of GHc23 million from its Unibank account number; 0301302040011 to CODCO’s account numbered 1050130338993, believed to be a Fidelity Bank account at East Legon, Accra.
The transaction, which captured Just Gold as ordering payment to CODCO through UNIBANK from Bank of Ghana is dated February 8, 2018.
Documentation on the rest of GHC35.1 million which is GHc12.1 million,is yet to be seen by The Herald, however,this paper was informed by EOCO sources that, Mr Opoku-Darko’s estate company was found to have evaded tax, for which he was made to pay a little over GHC2million to Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) from Adentuji’s cash.
The latest controversy over the NAM1 matter was sparked by a video made by one Kelvin Ekow Baidoo Taylor, who alleges that the Dubai-based Horizon Royal Diamonds contacted Ace Ankomah’s law firm; Bentsi-Enchill, Letsa and Ankomah (BELA), to represent them in a case involving Adetunje and Mr Opoku-Darko, duping the company.
The revelation by Mr Taylor got Ace Ankomah and Charles Opoku-Darko alias Chairman, finally opening up on the issue. They had previously ignored publications in The Herald, sometime in January this year, which revealed they’re connected to the arrest of NAM1 in Dubai, where he had gone to retrieve his money from the same Horizon Royal Diamonds, after a gold transaction.
But while Ace Akomah, comes across as having concealed critical information on the US$51 million gold fraud, which led to the arrest of the Menzgold CEO, Mr Opoku –Darko, came across as lying about his involvement and pushing the blame on his co-accused Adetunje, a Nigerian, currently on the run.
He had allegedly been helped by Hopeson Adorye formerly of the National Security and stationed at Kotoka International Airport to flee.
Dr. K.K Amoah ex-EOCO boss, has also broken his silence, leaving behind the Commercial Crime Unit of the police, Chief Inspector Wisdom Semanu, who Ace Ankomah, had mention in his response to the claims of Kelvin Taylor, as the Police investigator, who was handed documents received from lawyers for the Dubai-based Horizon Royal Diamonds.
Ace Ankomah, stayed away from mentioning Adetunje, Opoku-Darko and Horizon Royal Diamonds, but shifted blame on the police saying “Our work ended when on 14th April 2019, the firm and the client mutually terminated our relationship and we handed the brief over another law firm on the 26th April 2019. As at that date, the matter was still with Commercial Crime Unit of Ghana Police”.
This means three months into The Herald’s publication, he was still working for the Dubai-based company, which had caused the arrest of NAM1, although he had denied engagement between his law firm and Horizon Royal Diamond.
Dr. K KAmoah in a three-page response to Kelvin Taylor, dated July 25, 2019, also delved into the matter “on or about 16th February 2018, one Charles Darko, was arrested for money laundering, following a report from the Financial Intelligence Center, which, contrary to Kevin Taylor’s falsehood, is an independent statutory body and not part of EOCO”.
Dr. Amoah, disclosed that the FIC, had frozen the account into which certain monies had been received. Although Charles claimed that the money he had received was from a company called Just Gold to purchase houses from him, we were not convinced and therefore charged him with money laundering and tax evasion”.
According to him, the High Court, convicted Opoku-Darko for tax evasion, but acquitted him on money laundering because, as the court held, there was no predicate offence. Upon his acquittal, he applied to the court to remove the FIC’s freezing order over his account.
He charged “I must emphasise that no $600,000 or any part of it was paid to me. I am also not aware that any such payment was made to anyone in EOCO. Also, the allegation that it was EOCO that introduced Charles Darko to lawyer Augustine Obuor is false. Indeed in the course of our investigations, it emerged that lawyer Obuor, had been Charles Darko’s lawyer for several years before that arrest. Further, that arrest and prosecution had nothing to do with NAM 1 or Menzgold. There was no connection between them at that time. And the name “Horizon” did not even come up in the course of that matter”.
According to Dr. Amoah “after about three meetings held between Bank of Ghana and EOCO at EOCO head office during which the Bank of Ghana complained about the activities of certain companies, including Menzgold for taking deposits without licence, EOCO commenced investigations into those companies. On or about 10th August 2018, EOCO arrested NAM 1 and about four other people for operating deposit-taking businesses without a licence. It is therefore also false that the Bank of Ghana, did not take any action against NAM 1. Bank of Ghana’s report submitted to us on these activities showed that the Bank had met with and cautioned NAM 1 several times, both verbally and in writing, to cease and desist from the operations but that he had simply ignored the central bank”.
He recalled “…the Bank of Ghana had started cautioning NAM 1 and Menzgold between 2014 and 2017 about the illegal nature of the business he was doing. In fact, in or about March 2015, the Bank of Ghana issued a notice that listed unlicensed entities operating illegally, including NAM 1’s business. It was those actions and cautions that led to Menzgold changing its name from Menzbank to Menzbanc and then to Menzgold, in an attempt to dodge the licensing requirement for taking deposits”.
The ex-EOCO boss said “we noted that from these interactions, that NAM 1, always had the option to apply to either the Bank of Ghana or the Security and Exchange Commission for a licence, but he never did. Rather he applied for and obtained a gold trading licence which he now used as a cover to disguise his deposit-taking business. We also noted that he had ignored a 19th September 2017 letter from the Minerals Commission that warned him that his operations were in breach of the law and the licence he had obtained”.
He explained that “since the offence we charged NAM 1 with, which was operating a deposit-taking business without a licence was a misdemeanour, he was granted self-recognizance bail for him to report regularly to the office. He reported to EOCO about seven times to assist in investigations. But on or about 15th September 2018, he failed to report, in breach of the terms of his bail. Significantly this was around the time that the Security and Exchange Commission wrote to him to suspend taking any fresh deposits from customers”.
“However, NAM 1 called the case officer and claimed that some persons had stolen his gold from Tarkwa and taken it to Cote d’Ivoire and that he was chasing that matter. When we did not hear from him again for a while, we were compelled to go to court for a warrant for his arrest. We started tracking him with intelligence information about possible sightings in Nigeria, Spain and the United Kingdom. It was when we were still tracking him that he called the case officer again, this time to say that he had been arrested and detained in Dubai, giving us details of the police station at which he was detained”.
“My office wanted to confirm this information and so contacted National Security, which after investigations confirmed that he was indeed in Dubai and under arrest. It was after this that a government delegation of two ministers travelled to Dubai to meet NAM 1 and the authorities there. Upon their return, they reported that NAM 1 had been arrested on the basis of an allegation by a company called “Horizon” in Dubai, which claimed that they had been defrauded in Ghana by one Adewoye (Ade) and that NAM 1 was the person who introduced them to the said Ade. The report also mentioned Charles Darko’s name. We began investigations and arrested Charles Darko, who denied any connection with the matter”.
“Our investigation then confirmed that Horizon had made a complaint to the Commercial Crime Unit of the CID. We contacted CID Headquarters who confirmed the complaint and that it was under investigation. The handwritten complaint and documents submitted by Horizon said nothing about NAM 1 or his company Menzgold.
“This was the state of affairs when I left EOCO. I am aware that the matter is still under CID investigation, that there is a warrant for the arrest of the person called Ade, and that Charles Darko has been arrested, granted bail, and been reporting to the CID”.
He said “these facts show that Kevin Taylor simply lied. He pieced together bits of information, several of which were already in the public domain, and laced them with falsehood, propaganda and defamatory matters just to tarnish my reputation and that of others. It is false that I colluded with lawyer Ankomah and/or Gabby Otchere-Darko to subvert the law or engage in any fraudulent or unethical conduct”, adding “I have accordingly referred this matter to lawyers and will take it up against Kelvin Taylor to the fullest extent permissible by law”.
The revelation by Opoku-Darko that the Nigerian, came back for the money showed clearly that EOCO, FIC and the Commercial Crime Unit of the CID, were not monitoring the two suspected criminals in a bid to check their activities retrieved the money for Horizon Royal Diamonds.
More to come!