The battle to freeze the accounts of the former COCOBOD boss Dr Stephen Opuni continues unabated with lawyers of the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) justifying why the assets must remain under confiscation.
Jacqueline Avotri, who is counsel for Crime Office told the court they are simply being proactive to ensure that proceeds of crime are not dissipated before the trial of Dr Opuni ends.
The embattled former COCOBOD boss is before an Accra High court on various charges including that of causing financial loss to the state to the tune of 217 million cedis during his three-year tenure as COCOBOD CEO. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Even before the substantial case will be dealt with, Dr Opuni wants to have access to his accounts which have been frozen for 13 months now.
When his lawyers asked the court to defreeze his accounts, EOCO did not oppose the application which was granted much to the relief of the COCOBOD boss.
But his joy was short-lived. Within 24 hours, EOCO went back to court to secure a second order to block his accounts.
Counsel for EOCO Jacqueline Avotri on Wednesday urged the court not to de-freeze the accounts.
She said EOCO’s Executive director, has a duty to identify proceeds of crime which could be used in satisfaction of confiscation orders at the end of a successful conviction.
“This court has on many occasions confiscated a number of properties to the state based on requests by the EOCO Executive Director. The fact that EOCO has even concluded investigations and handed over to another agency doesn’t mean our work is over” she argued.
Lawyer Avotri defended the decision by EOCO not to oppose the earlier request for access to the account. She told the court the investigative body had no legal basis to kick against the request especially when the freeze order secured in February 2017 had elapsed.
“EOCO had no legal basis to oppose the de-freezing motion hence the decision not to oppose. It would have been unconscionable to have applied for an extension”, she stated.
She further told the court that the amount of money in Dr. Opuni’s two accounts is less than the total amount (215million dollars) involved in the charges he is standing trial for.