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US$800,000 Fraud…

Defence accuses Master and Registrar of refusing to sign bail bond

July 11, 2016 By Patrick Jaiah Kamara

Lawyer Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai has accused Acting Master and Registrar Steven Yayah Mansaray of refusing to approve bail that was granted to his client since January this year.

He made this accusation before High Court Judge, Justice Miatta Samba, while praying that the court review what he described as ‘rigid bail condition’ imposed on his client.

The lawyer said that the Acting Master and Registrar had been very reluctant to approve the bail.

“There is no legislative provision or normative for the Master and Registrar to refuse approving bail when it is ordered by the court. He has told us that his hands are off our case. I even raised this issue during the bail conference held at the British Council,” complained the lawyer.

However, the judge advised him to channel his concerns to the Chief Justice, Hon. Abdulai Charm.

It remains unclear though whether Mr. Abdulai’s client failed to fulfill the bail conditions set by the court, which triggered the registrar’s alleged action or inaction.

Justice Samba had granted the accused Le4.5bn bail, which was later varied to Le2.5bn in January when it became apparent that the accused could not meet the bail condition.

The accused has been on remand as a result for the past nine months.

But after the plea from his lawyer, the judge again reduced the bail condition to Le1bn and one surety who should be a property owner in the Western Area, plus the accused should report to the acting Master and Register every Monday until the final verdict is announced.

Earlier Justice Samba ruled that Lawyer Abdulai’s client, Mohamed Osman Sesay alias Assassin, has a case to answer with regards the mega fraud of US$800,000 entrusted to him by British telecommunications investor, Dominic Anselm Joseph Beary.

Her ruling came after Mr. Abdulai made a no-case submission following the close of the prosecution’s case last month.

The accused was before the court on eight counts of corruption offences ranging from conspiracy to deceiving a principal, contrary to the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008.

But the court found him not wanting on counts 4, 7, and 8, for lack of sufficient evidence adduced by the prosecution.

The accused was charged together with one Dennis Jones, who fled the jurisdiction, but was subsequently arrested after the trial had begun. His case is due to come up next Friday, 15July.

Beary, who is director at the National Proximity Sierra Leone Limited, allegedly transferred US$800,000 from the parent company in England to Sesay, who claimed to be a local agent, for the purpose of helping him secure an international gateway licence for the company.

The accused is alleged to have deceptively sent several correspondences to the director in UK, claiming that the deal had been done. Many of those correspondences were letters purportedly signed by senior government officials at the Ministry of Information and Communications and National Telecommunications Commission, according to the prosecution.

Abdulai had argued in his no case submission that the anti-graft body lacks the jurisdiction to charge his client because the body is responsible to only try public officials and not private individuals.

But the judge dismissed his argument on the grounds that the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008 refers to ‘any person’ who does a corruption act and not necessarily public officials.

On the issue of deception, the defence lawyer contends that his client had not acted in any deceptive manner. However, the judge countered that the accused person’s action was dishonest, citing evidence by NATCOM boss Momoh Konteh, who denied knowledge of a letter the accused claimed to have been written by the telecoms regulatory body.

“So far the prosecution has adduced a prima facie evidence that the accused was deceptive in his action, base on the document tendered and the witnesses summoned by the prosecution. It is left with the defence to prove the prosecution otherwise,” stressed the trial judge.

The judge also dismissed another submission by the defence counsel that his client had not connived with any person at a bank to defraud Mr. Beary, thus should not have been charged with conspiracy.

Justice Samba furthered held that the accused person deceived his principal when he gave him a receipt of payment of US$108,000, among others, purportedly signed by one Mohamed Bangura, knowing the same to be false.

“I hold that the prosecution has proved his case against the accused on count 1,2,3,5 & 6 and I discharged him on counts 4, 7& 8,”she ruled.

Meanwhile, Lawyer Abdulai thanked the judge for the ruling and requested a copy of the ruling before they could commence their case, adding that his client was certainly ready to testify on oath.

The case was adjourned to 15 July, 2016.

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