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High Court dismisses Special Prosecutor’s request to keep Sir John’s assets frozen

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An Accra High Court has dismissed a request by the Special Prosecutor Kissi Agyebeng to grant him the mandate to freeze assets of the late CEO of Forestry Commission, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, also known as Sir John.

Mr. Agyebeng froze the assets as part of investigations the office commenced into the acquisition of state lands and properties that were contained in Mr Afriyie’s will.

In May this year, it emerged that the will of Sir John contained some parcels of land at the Achimota Forest Reserve and the Sakumono Ramsar site. It also contained four parcels of land in the Achimota Forest, which the late politician gifted to some individuals.

The will also had huge sums of money in both his local and foreign accounts.

As a result of the public uproar that greeted the news, the OSP in a press statement issued on Thursday, May 26 said it has commenced investigations into it.

This, according to JoyNews checks, has led to the freezing of his bank accounts and all assets. The Special Prosecutor then filed processes in court to formalise this order.

Section 38 of the Office of the Special Prosecutor Act , Act 959, empowers the Special Prosecutor to direct the freezing of assets if he holds the view that it is necessary for investigations. He is then required to apply to a court within fourteen days for a confirmation of the freezing order.

This is what led the SP to file the current processes.

The High Court however took the view that the Special Prosecutor should have initiated the process under Section 54 of the Act.

Section 54 of the OSP Act is titled “Procedure against property where a person dies or absconds”.

It enables The Special Prosecutor to apply to the Court for a confiscation order in respect of tainted property if the person from whom the property was seized is on trial for corruption or a corruption-related offence or is convicted of corruption or a corruption-related offence but dies or absconds.

The Court in dismissing the request pointed out that this procedure should have been used by Mr. Agyebeng’s office.

The Special Prosecutor however disagrees and has served notice of challenging this position at the Court of Appeal.

He contends the procedure under Section 38 of the Act, which he used, is the appropriate one.

This provision deals with the procedure where a person dies or absconds. This empowers the SP to make a request for confiscation of such a property.