Director of the Kessben Group of Companies, Kwabena Kesse, has been arrested for alleged fraud and money laundry.
A confidential National Security document intercepted by myjoyonline.com accused him of using one of his firms, KESSBEN Shipping, Forwarding and Trading Ltd. (KSFTL), to facilitate the outward transfer of large volumes of foreign exchange to spurious and phony addresses.
From January, 2013 to February, 2014, Mr Kesse is said to have siphoned an amount of one hundred and twenty-seven million, nine hundred and thirty one thousand, seven hundred and twenty-seven dollars and sixty-five cents ($127,931,727.65) and transferred same to unknown foreign destinations, using fake documentation.
According to the intelligence report, the transactions were very frequent sometimes almost daily and involved Ghana’s hard earned dollars, thereby placing a huge burden on the cedi-dollar ratio.
In 2013 alone, the company is said to have transferred one hundred and twelve million, eight hundred and fourteen thousand, one hundred and seventy-nine dollars and sixty-five cents ($112,814,179.65) through a local bank to so-called shippers, whereas the invoices issued did not bear the official addresses and telephone numbers of the shippers.
In January and February, 2014 the company transferred additional fifteen million, one hundred and seventeen thousand, five hundred and forty-eight dollars ($15,117,548.00) out of the country under similar pretences.
“Interestingly, some of the shippers referred to by the company were individuals rather than firms or business entities,” the documents noted.
The Bureau of National Investigations, BNI, is therefore coordinating with local and international partners and banks to unravel the case.
Preliminary investigation reveals that “Various bills of lading presented by the company to the bank were examined. There were startling and remarkable differences between the description of the purported imported items as stated and the corresponding invoices from the shippers. Some of the Bills of Lading had no description of detailed goods or unit prices. Outrageously, some did not indicate the supplier or their addresses. As if that was not enough, different orders had same weight while many invoice descriptions differed from the Bills of Lading.”
According to the Bank of Ghana, usually a Bill of Lading should provide a brief description of the goods being transported and also disclose the place of issue.
“Contrary to this standard practice, however, it has been revealed that in many instances the Bill of Lading provided to the Bank by KSFTL merely described the goods as ‘1 Lot Assorted Goods’.
“Strangely, some Bills of Lading did not state the place of issue, while huge bills were still quoted. In many cases the same supplier, had same invoice number and different orders dated differently on same freight. Some goods were ordered in one country and shipped in another. The irregularities are numerous.”
It was also discovered that the irregularities also included situations where different quantities of the same items were given the same gross weight and charged equally.
Checks at the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority so far point to the fact that the Bills of Lading used by KSFTL for which millions of dollars were taken out of the country illegally could be fake as they could not be identified when entered into their system. “The implication is that no such documents had been used to clear goods at the port, as such no goods of that nature were imported into the country at all, yet millions of dollars were taken out of the country in the name of such non-existent freight.”
Even though the local bank, which was used for the transactions, insists that due diligence for adequacy, accuracy and authenticity was done as humanly possible, the BNI is yet to confirm that.
However, the frequency of the transactions coupled with the volume of money involved should have been enough to at least arouse the bank’s suspicion for further probing prior to the transfers, the intercepted documents stated.
The ongoing investigation is among others aimed at examining KSFTL’s transfers in detail and confirming the authenticity of the documentation and to confirm or deny the claim that the bank exercised the appropriate due diligence and controls available that could have averted the massive transfers.
“It appears so far that a clear case of fraud and money laundering is established against the ownership of KSFTL,” the confidential report concluded. Mr. Kwabena Kesse, popularly known as KESSBEN who is currently in custody is expected to be put before court Wednesday.
Mr. Kwabena Kesse holds a first-class honours degree in Economics and Law and a Master of Business Administration majoring in Finance from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.
He is the Director of the Kessben Group of Companies: Kessben 93.3 FM, Kessben TV, Kessben Travel and Tours, Kessben Driving School, Kessben Shipping and Forwarding Ltd, Kessben Computer School, Fosua Hotel and Aseda Clinic.
He is also the majority share-holder in Multi Credit Savings and Loans Ltd.