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Pastor allegedly swindles church members off GH¢23m

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Pastor Kelvin Kwesi Kobiri and his wife Sabina Elson Godson

A Pastor and his wife have been arraigned before court for allegedly swindling about 875 persons in the sum of GH¢23,773,950. Pastor Kelvin Elson Godson, also known as Kelvin Kwasi Kobiri, is the Founder and General Overseer of the Zoe Outreach Embassy Church, and his wife, Sabina Elson Godson, were put before the court yesterday.

The two were charged with 40 counts of conspiracy to defraud and defrauding by false pretences, and one count of money laundering, but have pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

The court, presided over by Justice Mary Nyanzuh, has granted the couple bail in a total sum of GH¢46 million, with six sureties. The bail is to be justified with documents of landed properties, and two of their sureties are to deposit their passports with the court registry, while the rest are also required to deposit their valid identification card with the court registry.

Mr. and Mrs. Wilson Godson were further ordered to report to the Economic Crime Unit of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service (GPS) once every month.

Assistant State Attorney (ASA) Dorm Esi Fiadzoe told the court that Pastor Kelvin had branches of the Church in Accra and Tarkwa, and the complainants were members of his church and from the general public.

According to her, the accused persons co-owned EL Real Estate Limited and Capital Limited, companies that they used to allegedly defraud the complainants.

She said the accused persons collected the said amount with the promised to invest it in their companies and would return the principal with over 100 to 400 percent interest from the periods between three and 12 months. ASA Fiadzoe added that the accused persons allegedly engaged in this criminal enterprise between part of 2018 and 2019. The case has been adjourned to September 5, 2022.

Brief facts read in court

The complainants, about 875 in number, are mostly congregants of the first accused person’s church in Accra and Tarkwa, and its environs in the Western Region. The first accused person, Pastor Kelvin Elson Godson aka Kelvin Kwasi Kobiri, is the Founder and General Overseer of the Zoe Outreach Embassy Church with branches in Accra and Tarkwa. The second accused person, Sabina Elson Godson, is the wife of the first accused person, and both of them are the owners of EL Real Estate Limited.

The first accused person is also the owner of Capital Limited, a company he bought from the original owners and registered in the names of his employees, who are holding it in trust for him.

In the beginning of the year 2018, the first accused person represented to the members of his church and the general public that he was operating a scheme called ‘Lease buy back’, where he would sell plots of land and other landed properties to them, invest the monies in his investment company, and later buy same back at higher prices.

The first accused person then started receiving payments from members of his church and the general public from April 2018, under the guise of selling lands and properties to them and later buying them back.

The first accused person asked the complainants to pay various sums of money into different bank accounts, after which the he prepared fictitious documents purportedly covering some lands, which he issued to the complainants.

According to the accused persons, the monies realised from the sale of the lands were invested in the international money market through Tikowrie Capital Limited, Capital Limited, Top FX and Edge FX.

In a letter dated 18th April, 2019, the National Security Coordinator requested the Director General of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Ghana Police to conduct investigations into the activities of the EL Real Estate Limited, in relation to payments of dividends to their customers who had made investments with them.

Investigations revealed that the accused persons represented to the complainants that they would sell plots of land and other landed properties to them, invest the principal sums collected from the complainants in their companies and later buy back the plots of land at higher prices. As part of the agreement, after the maturity date, they would pay the principal with interest rates between 100 to 480%, but failed to do so and after several demands from the complainants the accused persons have up to date not paid them. During the period that the complainants were paying monies into the accounts of the companies of the accused persons, the first accused person deposited and withdrew a huge sum of money from Capital and bought Capital Limited from its owners by 31st August, 2018, this was not part of the ‘lease-buy-back’ agreement.

Investigations revealed that EL Real Estate Limited, a company registered with the core mandate of selling lands and other landed properties had rather ventured into providing financial and investment services without licence from the authorised entity which is the Securities and Exchange Commission. Fine Fort Capital Limited is also not licensed to engage in the business of investment/fund management. Tikowire Capital Limited and Capital Limited are however licensed to do business of investment/fund management.

In all, about eight hundred and seventy-five persons invested a total of GH¢23,773,950.00 with the aforementioned companies as follows – 784 persons invested a total of GH¢19,288,950.00 with EL Real Estates Limited, 79 persons invested a total of GH¢4,208,500.00 with Tikowrie Capital Limited while 12 invested a total of GH¢275,500 with Capital Limited.

The accused persons were arrested on 18th April, 2019 and granted police enquiry bail. Based on these facts the accused persons have been arraigned before you for trial.

BERNICE BESSEY

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