Beige Bank collapse: Lawyer’s absence forces adjourment to March 10

Beige Bank Michael Nyinaku

The trial of the former Chief Executive Officer of defunct Beige Bank Limited, Michael Nyinaku, has been adjourned to March 10 over a misunderstanding between him and his lawyer.

The Economic and Financial Crime Division of the High Court in Accra adjourned the case after Mike Nyinaku, who has been charged at the court presided over by Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe, said that his lawyer was not in court over a misunderstanding.

Mr. Nyinaku is standing for allegedly stealing about GH¢1.3billion of depositors’ funds from the bank, for which he has pleaded not guilty to all 43 charges of stealing, fraudulent breach of trust, and money laundering when he mounted the dock during his first court appearance in November 2022.

A Chartered Accountant with accounting and auditing firm KPMG, who is the prosecution’s principal witness, Julius Ayivor, has given his evidence in chief and is currently being cross-examined by Mike Nyinaku’s lawyer, Thaddeus Sory.

However, when the case resumed on Monday, February 27 for the cross-examination of the principal witness to continue, the lawyer for the accused was absent in court.

Mr. Sory failed to show up in court because of what the accused person described as a ‘misunderstanding’ that occurred in their ‘camp’ over the weekend. When Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe asked Mike Nyinaku why his lawyer was absent, the former CEO of the defunct Beige Bank answered: “My lady, there was a misunderstanding in our camp”. That misunderstanding, he said, accounted for his lawyer’s absence.

The presiding judge further asked why the accused was now telling the court, to which Mr. Nyinaku responded that the misunderstanding happened over the weekend.

At the previous hearing, Mr. Sory continued with his cross-examination of Mr. Ayivor. Mr. Sory, in his cross-examination, had put to the prosecution witness that customer funds siphoned from Beige Bank to BCAM, Nyinaku’s company, were done in the ordinary course of Beige Bank’s business and were, therefore, regular transactions as the Beige Bank had kept accurate records of those movements.

Mr. Sory suggested to the witness that before the bank’s license was revoked, any customer that wanted their funds got those funds.

Mr. Sory had, during a previous hearing, tendered through the principal witness a copy of what he said was an investment certificate that had been issued to an affected customer for a GH¢4million fixed deposit investment that had been placed with ‘BEIGE’.

Mr. Ayivor, however, disagreed with Mr. Sory’s suggestions and indicated that the amounts siphoned from Beige Bank to BCAM were done on the blind side of the over 10,000 affected customers.

Mr. Ayivor further told the court that the investment certificates issued to the affected customers had some peculiarities. Explaining the said peculiarities, Mr. Ayivor stated that the referenced investment certificate, which was similar to other investment certificates issued to various unsuspecting customers of the bank, only had the embossment ‘BEIGE’ on the certificates without specifying which specific Beige entity the amount was being ‘invested’ in.

Mr. Ayivor indicated that there were other entities in the Beige Group, including BCAM and Beige Group Limited, on whose behalf the said ‘BEIGE’ investment certificate were issued, yet those certificates were presented to the unsuspecting customers as though they had been issued by Beige Bank.

Mr. Ayivor added that those investment certificates had been designed to mislead unsuspecting customers who believed their monies were being placed in fixed deposit investments with Beige Bank when the monies collected were siphoned and diverted out of the bank to other companies owned by Mike Nyinaku.

The case was, therefore, adjourned to Friday, 10th March, 2023 for further cross-examination of Mr. Ayivor.

However, what remains unknown is whether Mr. Sory will continue to represent Mike Nyinaku, or another lawyer will show up on the adjourned date.

Case facts

The facts of the case as narrated by Alfred Tuah-Yeboah, Deputy Attorney-General, were as follows: Mike Nyinaku is the former Chief Executive Officer of The Beige Bank Limited, and on 1st August, 2018, Bank of Ghana revoked the banking license of Beige Bank and placed it in receivership.

A review of the financial and other records of the bank conducted by the receiver and his team revealed several suspicious and unusual transactions, which were subsequently reported to the law enforcement agencies for investigation.

The Deputy AG said the investigations conducted revealed that between 2015 and 2018, the accused person – as CEO of the bank – had allegedly used various means to transfer huge sums of monies to companies related to him and for his personal benefit.

Mike Nyinaku is standing trial on 43 counts of stealing, fraudulent breach of trust, and money laundering involving the siphoning of a total of GH¢1.3billion from the defunct Beige Bank between 2015 and 2018 in a case presided over by Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe, a Justice of the Court of Appeal, sitting with additional responsibilities as a High Court Judge. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

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