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Opuni’s Monthly SSNIT Alone Was At ₵20K; He Earned More Than ₵25K – Witness Tells Court



The monthly Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) contribution of Dr Stephen Opuni as Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Cocoa Board (Cocobod) was capped at GHS20,000, a former Director of Finance of the company, Mr Charles Tetteh Dodoo, a defence witness in the ongoing 217-million financial loss case, has told the court on Monday, 11 April 2022.

Dr Opuni, businessman Seidu Agongo and his Agricult Company Limited (First, Second and Third Accused Persons in that order) have been standing trial for more than four years in connection with the supply of the alleged substandard fertiliser which, according to the State, caused the nation to lose GHS217 million.

While under cross-examination by Mr Nutifafa Nutsukpui, counsel for Mr Agongo and Agricult, Mr Dodoo said Dr Opuni earned more than GHS25,000 as salary.

Read excerpts of the court hearing below:

Q. Sir, as Director of Finance, do you remember how much the first accused earned a month in his role as CE of Cocobod?

A. I cannot recollect.

Q. Would it have been more than GHS25,000 a month?

A. My Lord, it will be more than GHS25,000. I recollect that aspect because I was paying his SSNIT remittances on a cap of GHS20,000 given by SSNIT at the time.

Q. So, do I understand you to mean that his monthly SSNIT contribution at the time was GHS20,000?

A. My Lord, his payment was based on the cap of GHS20,000.

This is not the first time Dr Opuni’s salary as Cocobod CEO has come up during the hearing.

About a year ago, the investigator in the case, Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Prempeh Mercer, told the same court presided over by Justice Clemence Honyenuga, a Justice of the Supreme Court sitting as an additional High Court judge that Dr Opuni’s salary as Cocobod CEO was “way above” the GHS25,000 deposited into his account by Mr Agongo.

Mr Mercer, who is with the Financial Forensics Unit (FFU) of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service, made the comment in court on Monday, 22 March 2021.

A week earlier, he had said that Mr Agongo admitted having paid the amount to Dr Opuni to be used as charity for the poor.

The seventh prosecution witness maintained his story in court on 22 March 2021 during cross-examination and noted that the money was well within the earning capacity of Dr Opuni, whose salary at Cocobod, according to him, was heftier than the alleged GHS25,000 bribe.

“Now, sir, you told the court that the reason for charging A1 (Dr Stephen Opuni) and A2 (Seidu Agongo) in respect of the GHS25,000 deposit made into A1’s account by A2 was the conflicting statements they gave when they were interrogated separately. Am I correct?” asked Mr Nutifafa Nutsukpui, counsel for Mr Agongo and the third accused entity, Agricult Company Limited. 

“Yes, my Lord”, Mr Mercer answered.

“Now, sir, as part of your investigations, did you find out how much A1 [Opuni] earned as a monthly salary at Cocobod?” to which he responded: “Yes, my Lord”.

“How much did he earn per month?” the investigator was asked.

“My Lord, as part of our investigations, we obtained the payslips of A1 from the time of assumption of office to the time he left office. And my Lord, I can produce it if I am asked to. I don’t have the exact figure in my head”, he told the court last year.

The counsel then wondered: “Sir, would you remember if that figure would be more or less than GHS25,000?”

The investigator said: “My Lord, it is way above GHS25,000”.

“Sir, it is entirely possible that the GHS25,000 is A1’s own money; that’s correct?” he was asked.

He answered: “My Lord, that is not so”.

Mr Mercer explained: “My Lord, I have explained in this court and produced evidence to support that and to tell the court that A1, in giving a statement to the police, said he gave the money to A2 to be deposited into his account. A2, on the other hand, said he does not remember but what he did remember was that he paid GHS25,000 into A1’s Ecobank account to cater for the needy children”.

“Now, sir, irrespective of whether or not you believed A1, the GHS25,000 was within his monthly earning capacity at Cocobod; that is correct?”

“Yes, my Lord”, Mr Mercer answered.

Source: classfmonline

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