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01 August 2014

Kessben CEO remanded in Police custody.

An Accra Circuit Court has remanded the Chief Executive Officer of Kessben Group of Companies, Kwabena Kesse, in police custody.
He is to re-appear on August, 7 2014.

Mr Kesse has been charged with two counts of money laundering and forgery of documents to which he has pleaded not guilty.
He is alleged to have illegally transferred $127,931,727.65 out of Ghana to dubious locations within a period of 14 months and also forged documents to the bank to facilitate the act.

The Presiding Judge, Mr Francis Obiri, in dismissing an application for bail on Thursday said, if granted bail, the accused person was likely to interfere with police investigations.

He, however, added that while in custody, Mr Kesse should be given access to his lawyers and other close relatives.

The accused was picked up on Tuesday, July 29, 2014 together with three officials of the Stanbic Bank for allegedly facilitating the laundering of the said cash.

A highly-placed source at the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) told the Daily Graphic in Accra Wednesday that Mr Kesse, through one of his companies, KESSBEN Shipping, Forwarding and Trading Limited (KSFTL), allegedly engaged in “fraudulent documentation to facilitate the outward transfer of large volumes of foreign exchange to spurious and phony addresses, using its bank account with Stanbic Bank.”

According to the BNI, Kesse committed the alleged fraudulent acts between January 2013 and February 2014.

“In 2013 alone, the company transferred $112,814,179.65 through the bank to so-called shippers, whereas the invoices issued did not bear the official addresses and telephone numbers of the shippers. Yet still, in January 2013 and February 2014, the company transferred $15,117.548 out of the country under similar pretences. Interestingly, some of the shippers referred to by the company were individuals rather than firms or business entities,” the preliminary facts of the case noted.

According to the BNI, it had examined various Bills of Lading KSFTL presented to the bank which revealed “startling and remarkable differences between the description of the purported imported items as stated and the corresponding invoices from the shippers.

Some of the Bill of Lading had no description of detailed goods or unit price. Outrageously, some did not indicate the suppliers or their addresses.”

According to the preliminary facts of the case, checks at the Bank of Ghana disclosed that a Bill of Lading was usually required to provide a brief description of goods and place of issue but in this instance “it has been revealed that in many instances, the Bill of Lading provided to Stanbic Bank by KSFTL merely described the goods as 1 Lot Assorted Goods.”

“Strangely, some Bill of Lading did not state the place of issue while huge bills were still quoted” the preliminary facts stated and further noted that “some goods were ordered in one country and shipped in another. The irregularities are numerous.”

“KSFTL, over a period of just 14 months …, siphoned an amount of $127,931,727.65 and transferred same to unknown foreign destinations/sources, using fake documentation.

According to the facts gathered, checks at the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) so far pointed to the fact that the “Bill of Lading used by KSFTL for which millions of dollars were taken out of the country illegally could be fake as they could not be identified when entered into the system.

The implication is that no such documents had been used to clear goods at the port. As such, no goods of that nature were imported into the country at all, yet millions of dollars were taken out of the country in the name of such non-existent freight.”

According to the preliminary facts, Stanbic Bank denied any wrongdoing and “insists that due diligence for adequacy, accuracy and authenticity was done as humanly possible.”

It said the BNI was yet to confirm the position of the bank as investigation was ongoing.

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