The Chief Executive of microfinance company Pryme Hedge Investments, Richard Appiah, has been sentenced to 20 years imprisonment with hard labour by the Accra High Court for defrauding 154 people of more than GH¢5 million under the pretext of investing their money.
Appiah pleaded not guilty to a charge of defrauding under false pretences but was found guilty by the Financial and Economic Crime Division of the Accra High Court, presided over by Mrs Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe.
He is reported to have collected over GH¢5 million from his clients with a promise to invest the money to accrue returns, but the clients did not receive the returns as promised.
In a judgement yesterday, the court held that per the evidence on record, Appiah indeed defrauded his clients.
“The prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused person indeed committed the crime,’’ the court stated.
The facts, as presented by the prosecutor, Senior State Attorney Ms Winifred Sarpong, were that the microfinance company, located at Sakumono near Accra, had no licence to operate a banking business.
Appiah, she stated, collected various sums of money from clients as deposits with a promise to pay them interest of between four to 10 per cent in six to 12 months.
The prosecution explained that Appiah paid the interests promptly when he commenced operations, thereby winning the confidence of the clients.
After some time, the prompt payment of interest, Ms Sarpong added, were not forthcoming and subsequently ceased.
“A client who deposited GH¢16, 000 was not paid his interest and could also not get his principal. He, therefore, lodged a complaint with the police that led to Appiah’s arrest,’’ the prosecution said.
The prosecutor further said following Appiah’s arrest, 154 more people lodged complaints with the police that he (Appiah) had collected various sums ranging from GH¢1,000 to GH¢ 250,000.
He added that the people revealed that Appiah failed to pay interest on the money or refund the principal to them.