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Minister’s Signature Forged In FCFA 572.870 Million Scam 

By Yerima Kini Nsom

Alleged embezzlers forged the signature of the Minister of Justice, Laurent Esso, and withdrew FCFA 572.870 million from the State treasury in 2015.

This is the substance of a matter in which some eight people are standing trial at the Special Criminal Court in Yaounde.

The accused persons that include bank workers, treasury officials and business people are languishing in pre-trail detention at the Kondengui Prison in Yaounde.

All the suspects pleaded not guilty when arraigned in court earlier this month. They are facing trial for embezzlement and complicity to the embezzlement of public funds.

The matter was adjourned to March for the defence to present witnesses.

The main defendant is one Laurent Benjamin Onogo alias Francois Atangana, who is a jurist and businessman.

He is said to have embezzled FCFA 572.870 million through the use of fake contacts. Other accused persons who were roped in the case as accomplices include: Stephane Yimwo Nossi, Esther Pemboura Tetmuoun, Lambert Romain Eyene, Helene Charlotte Tabi, Serge Magloire Tatchoum Ngami, Georges Armand Engolo and Emmanuel Zambo Zambo.

According to the Examining Magistrate at the Special Criminal Court, David Donhou, who is handling the case, all the accused persons are implicated in the embezzlement case.

The main accused person reportedly used his two enterprises, Ets Sorimex and Ets Camesco SA, to embezzle the money on account of fake contracts.

But nobody in the Ministry of Justice and Keeper of the Seals remembered ever awarding such contracts, let alone ordering for payment.

The main accused person claimed that his company had carried out 11 contracts that bordered on the repair of some court halls in Adamawa, Far North and North Regions of the country. These include: the court premises  of Tibati, Tignere, Mokolo, Meiganga, Kaele, Vina, Poli, Yagoua, Garoua, Mora and Banyo.

The repair works, he claimed, amounted to FCFA 572.870 million which was fraudulently withdrawn from the account of the Ministry of Justice at the Central Treasury in Yaounde.

The money was withdrawn with the complicity of workers in a certain bank. It was withdrawn using accounts of certain clients against a commission of 10 percent.

It was also discovered that, neither Sorimex nor Camesco had any accounts in the bank.

One official of the Yaounde Central Treasury, Georges Engolo, said the matter began when one individual presented himself as an envoy of the Minister of Justice with an order that the money be paid to the two enterprises.

The order, The Post learnt, had the Minister’s forged signature. The treasury official told the Examining Magistrate that he could not easily identify the person because orders from the Ministry of Justice are brought by many different individuals.

The case is expected to take a new gusto on March 1, when the defense lawyers take turns in defending their clients. Going by the French Language daily, Kalara, the court is expected to interrogate many other officials in the Ministry of Justice.