⁃ Prosecutor ASP Asare, on the other hand, comes to court almost always with what some describe as a funny phrase of “investigations are ongoing”.
⁃ On NAM 1’s second appearance in court on July 26, 2019, customers broke into a frenzy, shouting his name amidst boisterous chants of “Free NAM 1, We want our money”.
Almost three years after the collapse of Ghana’s most famous ‘Ponzi scheme’, Menzgold, its founder Nana Appiah Mensah (NAM 1), enjoys what some describe as heavenly luxury at his plush Trasacco Valley mansion while his victims endure hell.
The cries, anguish and torture of about 16000 people who fell victims are summed up in one sentence.
“We will die, and they will bury us,” a pensioner, old enough to father NAM 1, flared up in despair after several frustrating attempts to retrieve his investments failed.
Some 30 are dead, at least according to Fred Forson, a spokesperson for the Coalition of Aggrieved Menzgold Customers. Marriages have collapsed, some have been rendered homeless, and others are down with stroke due to the shock of their investments being locked or gone up in ‘flames’.
Over a billion cedis was locked up in the scheme likened to the R5 and Pyram schemes in the 1990s in Ghana.
Countless demonstrations and threats to the government yielded little or no results.
NAM 1 occasionally taunts the public with tweets, the last he spoke about his clients was a vague promise of offering lands at Kasoa as compensation.
It was one of many promises which NAM 1 has failed to honour.
Even though there is a pending court case, many are worried that little or nothing has been done or said about depositors’ funds, leaving worried investors at the mercy of the snail-pace adjudication system.
In recent times, social media was set on fire when a famous social media diva was jailed for public obscenity. Commentators questioned why Akuapem Poloo was jailed with haste while NAM 1, the originator of what has been described as a Ponzi Scheme, was still a free man.
It is said, “the wheels of justice grind slowly…”. But for many, especially those who invested their cash into the business, they could not tolerate the delay in having their investments back.
The government bailed out some customers of collapsed financial firms, and Menzgolders want the same.
State agencies promised to crack the whip to compel NAM 1 to cough the money. However, the assurances remain rhetoric to these ‘investors’.
In January 2019, the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) secured a court order confirming the freezing of landed properties and vehicles belonging to NAM 1.
Several properties, including all Menzgold offices in the country’s capital, Accra, were seized by EOCO. However, Menzgold customers are not enthused.
What’s the latest on NAM 1’s court case?
The case has taken different turns and twists. For instance, the judge sitting on the case now is Evelyn Asamoah who took over from Jane Helen Akweley Quaye. However, the prosecution team has never changed hands. The substantive prosecutor is Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Sylvester Asare.
Aside from these changes, the last 14 months have also seen a lot of adjournments.
The case has been adjourned at least 15 times over the judge’s absence or prosecution alleged negligence, leaving many to wonder who to blame for NAM 1’s ‘freedom’.
Some appeared to have laid the blame on the doorsteps of the trial judge, who has taken the leave at least three times on days when NAM 1’s case was to be heard.
Prosecutor ASP Asare, on the other hand, comes to court almost always with what some describe as a funny phrase of “investigations are ongoing”.
NAM1 arrest and release
Disgruntled clients filed a case against NAM 1 in July 2019. He was arrested after returning to Ghana from Dubai, where he had gone in December 2018, to retrieve money to pay clients.
The businessman claimed he won a judgment in Dubai in a gold dealership business gone wrong. He sought help from the government to retrieve some $39m after the State froze his accounts.
He was remanded by the Accra Circuit Court then presided over by Jane Helen Akweley Quaye after the police prosecutors prayed for his remand to aid in investigations.
The businessman was on trial for two counts of defrauding by false pretense and two counts of abetment to carry out banking business without a licence, contrary to Section 6 (1) of the Banks and Specialized Deposit-taking Institutions Act, 2016 (Act 930).
After two weeks on remand, the depositors realized it would be difficult for the embattled CEO to settle his debts if he remained in police custody.
On his second appearance in court on July 26, 2019, customers broke into a frenzy, shouting his name amidst boisterous chants of “Free NAM 1, We want our money”.
It was as though the chants of customers, who had besieged the court premises, touched the heart of the trial judge Jane Helen Akweley Quaye.
Nana Appiah Mensah was released from police custody on August 17, 2019, after meeting his revised bail conditions.
He was granted bail in the sum of GH¢1 billion with five sureties. The bail sum was believed to be one the of biggest in Ghana’s court at the time.
Earlier, the court had varied the bail conditions to allow five sureties to guarantee his bail without showing evidence of having properties worth the GH¢1 billion bail sum.
Tale of adjournments
Nana Appiah Mensah was first arraigned before an Accra Circuit Court on Friday, July 12, 2019, after months of detention in Dubai.
He was remanded for two weeks to reappear on July 26, 2019, but was granted bail that same day. He was granted bail in the sum of GH¢1 billion, with five sureties.
The trial was then set to continue in August. On August 12, 2019, the prosecution said investigations were ongoing.
There was no show on October 23, 2019, as the substantive prosecutor ASP Slyvester Asare was not present in court.
He had written formally to inform the court and prayed for an adjournment.
On November 20, 2019, state prosecutors again pleaded with the circuit court judge for a long adjournment in the trial of the Menzgold CEO.
ASP Asare told the court the state would prefer January 2020 to commence the trial of the embattled businessman and his wife Rose Tetteh and his sister Benedicta Mensah. The two accomplices are still at large.
On December 23, 2019, the case was adjourned when the prosecutor informed the court that it had sent the docket to the Attorney-General’s department for study and advice.
On March 5, 2020, Madam Evelyn Asamoah, who was unhappy with the prosecution’s handling of the case, said she would be forced to discharge the accused persons.
An excited NAM 1, who was in court, could only stifle a smile and pray the judge make good on her promise.
On April 6, 2020, the judge, however, took leave. For some reason, the judge’s leave coincided with NAM 1’s next date, leaving NAM 1 combing the streets of Accra in his Toyota Land Cruiser.
When the judge resumed in July, it was the prosecution’s time to drag their feet. They asked for more time to conduct further investigations.
The prosecutor was expected to have filed its new charges for Nana Appiah Mensah for the court to take his plea on Monday, July 20, 2020, but it did not happen.
However, the prosecutor, ASP Asare, told the circuit court that “the principal state attorney was working seriously to advise the court concerning the case” and prayed for a long adjournment.
He added that the prosecution would inform the court of its intention.
“We also ask that in the event that the adjournment is granted and advise ready, we will issue a hearing notice to the accused persons to appear before the court to do the needful,” ASP Asare stated on Monday, July 20, 2020.
But that promise never saw the light of day.
Fast forward to November 4, 2020; the case was adjourned after the clerk announced that the judge had taken leave for the second time.
“The judge [Evelyn Asamoah] is on leave, so we have been instructed to adjourn all the cases for today, [Friday],” the clerk informed court patrons.
When she resumed on December 16, last year, the court adjourned the case following ASP Asare’s plea that investigations were still ongoing.
As it stands now, the Menzgold CEO is not aware of the charges against him since the prosecution team, on June 24, 2020, withdrew the 61 charges, which included money laundering.
At the beginning of the new year, thousands of people who had fallen victim to NAM 1’s scheme hoped justice would be served to them on a plate.
But eights months into 2021, it is the same tune that has left depositors shattered while NAM 1 smiles at his Trassaco residence.
On March 2, 2021, the trial judge warned that she would strike out the case if the prosecution did not order their house. The judge again directed that the prosecution file the necessary documents to enable the trial to commence.
But somehow, the universe appeared tilted to NAM 1’s side because the judge took leave for the third time and adjourned the case to May 27, 2021.
On May 27, 2021, the prosecutor had one request – more time to build a watertight case against the embattled CEO.
He came to court to woo the judge with another adjournment speech.
“At the last sitting, my lady made the orders that prosecution files the necessary processes. Be it as it may, the prosecution is unable to file the processes on time as directed by this court. We submit that in all humility, this is not deliberate to delay or disrespect the order of this court.
“The records will show that at the last sitting, we indicated and pleaded with the court, as it is, in the interest of justice. This morning (Thursday), we are again on bended knees. Although standing, we ask that you give us the necessary ear.
“My principal (Attorney General’s office) is not sleeping on this matter. We will ensure that we file the necessary processes. We pray that in the interest of justice, my lady grants an adjournment to enable parties to put their house in order,” ASP Asare pleaded.
The trial judge conceded and adjourned to July 6, 2021.
But on July 6, 2021, NAM 1 failed to come to court due to a ‘miraculous’ cough.
The embattled businessman’s lawyer Audrey Twum who explained his absence, said, “NAM 1 has been coughing profusely and has been advised to seek medical care”.
The case was adjourned to Thursday, September 2, 2021, but the prosecutor was not present.
Lawyers for NAM 1 said the state is yet to file its processes.
On October 11, the state informed the court they were still waiting on the Attorney General’s advice on how to proceed.
The tale continues on November 22, 2021.
Facts of the case
The previous facts of the case, as presented by ASP Asare, were that in October 2018, the police received a complaint from about 16,000 people that Menzgold had convinced them to invest GH¢1.68 billion in a gold purchase scheme that yielded 10% monthly interest.
According to the prosecution, the complainants said their monies were locked up and that they could not find NAM1 and the other principal officers of Menzgold.
The prosecutor said investigations revealed that Menzgold and Brew Marketing Consult were incorporated as limited liability companies in 2013 and 2016, respectively.
Menzgold, he said, obtained a license from the Minerals Commission in August 2016 to purchase and export gold from small-scale miners, and that in order to successfully engage in the business, NAM 1 founded Brew Marketing Consult to be a gold buying agent.
ASP Asare said Menzgold was not licensed by the Minerals Commission to trade in gold. Notwithstanding the lack of such licence, he said, Menzgold went public after its incorporation and invited the public to deposit money for a fixed period with interest on the pretext of gold purchasing.
The prosecutor said further investigations revealed that the three accused persons were the directors and principal officers of Menzgold and Brew Marketing Consult.
More trouble for NAM 1
Meanwhile, NAM 1’s troubles with Ghana’s courts are far from over as the Adentan Circuit Court issued an arrest warrant against him in an alleged fraud case.
The embattled CEO and two others Gabriel Kwamigah and Eric Amponsah Bediako are to answer to charges of conspiracy to defraud by false pretence.
The ultimatum comes after several failed attempts to have the trio in court.
However, NAM1 has directed his legal team to appeal the bench warrant for his arrest.
Maintaining his innocence in a statement, NAM 1 indicated that his lawyers will “appeal the ruling on the point of the said law (Act 30) to bring finality to the matter”.
According to him, he did not purchase, acquire nor transact any business of any sort in connection with the purchase and acquisition of some three vehicles, of which one has been paid for.
He further explained that his role in the transaction was that of an arbiter; adding that he only came in “as a third party to help resolve some issues concerning the two other vehicles upon the request of the two parties (buyers and sellers)”.