US-based university denies FDA lawyer admission because of “The Returned Bribe” scandal

When the Head of Legal Affairs at Ghana’s Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), Mrs. Cynthia Dapaah-Ntow, was denied admission to the Thomas R. Kline School of Law at the Drexel University in Philadelphia, she was worried and wrote to enquire the reason.

Mrs. Dapaah-Ntow had applied to study the LLM in Healthcare & Pharm Compliance for the Spring Semester of 20-21, but the admission team sent her the following response in an email:

“Thank you for applying to Drexel University. After careful consideration of your application, the Admissions Committee has determined that we are unable to offer you admission.”

Unsatisfied with the response and curious to know the reason for the denial of admission, the FDA lawyer wrote to the university to find out.

“I am passionate about the programme and would want to reapply,” she said in her letter. “I hope you will be kind enough to point to me what worked against me in my last application so I do not repeat the same in my next attempt.”

In a response sent by the Assistant Dean of Enrolment Management, Audrey Woods, on December 17, 2020, the university explained that the denial of admission had nothing to do with her academic credentials.

“We found you to be a very qualified candidate, however, it came to the attention of the admissions committee that you were under investigation for allegations of bribery which is not in line with our values and code of conduct,” the university said in an email to the FDA lawyer.

Details of the correspondence are part of court processes Mrs. Dapaah-Ntow filed to support a case in which she’s seeking an injunction from the court to stop the broadcast of the television version of “The Returned Bribe” an investigative documentary by the Editor-in-Chief of The Fourth Estate, Manasseh Azure Awuni.

“The Returned Bribe” scandal

In November 2020, Manasseh Azure Awuni released an investigative report titled “The Returned Bribe” in which the CEO of the COA FS food supplement, Prof. Samuel Ato Duncan, alleged the FDA attempted to extort money from him when his product gained popularity in the wake of the COVID-19.

In the investigative report, Mrs. Cynthia Dapaah-Ntow was cited in a $200,000 bribery saga. She allegedly demanded a bribe of $100,000 for the CEO of the FDA and another $100,000 for herself.

This happened at the same period FDA, in April 2020, suspended the production license of COA FS, citing breaches in safety protocols.

The CEO of COA FS said he suspected foul play in the FDA’s approach and contacted the Head of Legal to complain and seek advice on how to handle the situation. According to him, it was at a meeting to discuss the issues that Mrs. Dapaah-Ntow demanded the money.

Professor Ato Duncan returned the following day with GHC500,000 (the cedi equivalent of $100,000) for the CEO of the FDA and another GHC100,000 for the Head of Legal.

Prof. Ato Duncan, CEO of COA FS, said he suspected foul play in the approach of the FDA

Mrs. Dapaah-Ntow later called him to come back for the money because the CEO of the FDA had rejected the money.

In that phone conversation, which was recorded, Mrs. Dapaah-Ntow is heard arguing with Professor Samuel Ato Duncan that the agreement was to give both the CEO of the FDA and her (the Head of Legal) $100,000 each. She said her cash of GHC100,000 was far less than the amount agreed.

“And we said okay bring her $100,000. And I asked you a specific question; [about mine] how much? Then you said the same amount,” she is heard in the audio.

“That’s what you said, Prof. We never discussed 100,000 cedis at all… Because $100,000, if you were giving her that, would translate into 587 [587,000 cedis]. Is that not correct? Assuming you were giving her cedi equivalent, that’s 587 [587,000 cedis].”

Prof. Ato Duncan said he thought it was $100,000 for the CEO of the FDA and 100,000 cedis for the Head of Legal Affairs.

Asked why he gave the money knowing that it was illegal to pay a bribe, Prof. Duncan said he suspected foul play and decided to play along. He added that in the process, he was in touch with the Greater Accra Regional Director of the National Bureau of Investigations (NIB), whom he fed updates of the scheme including exchanges between him and the Cynthia Dapaah-Ntow.

Injunction and Defamation Suit and Drama

The radio version of “The Returned Bribe” documentary was aired on the Super Morning Show of Joy 99.7FM on November 12, 2020, and the television version was billed to be broadcast later that night.

Mrs. Dapaah-Ntow, however, applied for an injunction against the broadcast of the television documentary. She also sued Manasseh Azure Awuni, Professor Samuel Ato Duncan and The Multimedia Group for defamation.

In January 2021, lawyers for Mrs. Dapaah-Ntow had asked the court to reject Manasseh’s entry of appearance and statement of defence because they claimed Manasseh had failed to provide his residential address.

The court dismissed their application, stating among other things that the plaintiff had not had any problems with serving any of the processes on Manasseh.

Unsatisfied with the ruling, Cynthia Dapaah-Ntow appealed at the Court of Appeal.

The lawyers for Manasseh and the Multimedia Group led by Samson Lardy Anyenini, repeated their stance that the numerous actions by Mrs. Dapaah-Ntow were only meant to delay the hearing of the substantive injunction application, a charge lawyers for Mrs. Dapaah-Ntow took a strong exception to, leading to heated exchanges in the court.

The Court of Appeal, on March 24, 2021, dismissed her application and awarded a cost of GHC2,000 against her.

The injunction was supposed to continue at the High Court on March 30, but the docket had not been brought back from the Court of Appeal so the case has been adjourned to May 11, 2021.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story shall not be republished or broadcast, in part or in full, in any form or shape without the express permission of the Editor-in-Chief.

31 COMMENTS

  1. Good investigations. Corruption is counter productive. Good herbal preparations from Ghana are sacrificed with impunity for Western drugs. If help comes from government, Ghanaian herbs herbs could be developed and exported to the West for foreign exchange apart from a good source of employment for the youth among others. But because of Corruption, it is parochial interest than national. Prof Duncan’s is that of human Centeredness

  2. Keep on the good work on the fight against corruption, Manasseh. I have a piece of advice for you: don’t be worried about the insults coming from all corners particularly, from the NPP. Your name is already written on brass in the history of Ghana and Corruption Fighters.

    • Concert!
      Hollow and shallow comment.

      Is the head of legal an NPP member?
      Can’t we just for a minute desist from attaching politics to any and everything in this country??

      Let’s get serious for moment!!!

  3. Thank God this came to light. At the time of covid-19 pandemic where every country were trying to push their own, ours was to pull down our own.

  4. why are the 2 of them still at post? Institutionalized corruption! They are probably charging/extorting money from all local producers before granting them approvals to the detriment of all citizens ‘cos those bribes are added to the cost of production and ordinary poor citizens will bear these costs.

    Greedy bastards

  5. My brother I have nothing to offer you for the great job done to bring sanity to our society but will pray that the Good lord will protect and guide you in all your endeavors.
    Corruption does not only distort development, it also deprived the poor of services.

  6. The fourth estate, we are counting on you. We pray the good Lord sustains u and strengthen u in pursuit of exposing and ultimately reducing the greatest enermy of our nation….corruptio.

  7. Am so satisfied ready through. But
    It also saddens my heart such unscrupulous, corrupt people dwell at the highest ranks in our society.

    I congratulate the University for due diligence

  8. In my honest opinion she should just withdraw the case, apologise or resign from her position and soberly reflect over her actions.
    She can then apply for her studies and move on with her life.

  9. God richly bless you Manasseh. Your works and your stands against corruption and injustice in society will always speak for you. I will keep praying for you sir

  10. The question that begs for answers is that why is Mrs Dapaah still at post? In any serious country, this woman should be suspended pending the final determination of the court or whatever investigation that has started.

  11. You head a regulatory body as important as the FDA and still be corrupt. This woman is evil, I pray she goes to jail.

  12. Excellent work done, Manasseh. The evil that men and women do, certainly live with/after them. Little did she know that a university in USA will be aware of the evil that she does in Ghana. Why is she even still at post? If “our President” is fighting corruption (which he’s not anyway), isn’t he supposed to ask her to step down for investigations to be concluded?

    Wait a minute, is she related to Ohene Ntow and Kan Dapaah?

  13. Excellent work done, TFE. The evil that men and women do certainly live with/after them. Little did she know that a university in USA will be aware of the evil that she does in Ghana.

    The level of corruption in Ghana in recent times is really very worrisome. That our own scientists would painstakingly bring this good product, from herbal medicine and just because of what some regulators want to ‘chop’, they will shoot it down. And isn’t she supposed to step down, or be asked to step down for investigations to commence? Or do we not have a president “who is committed to fighting corruption” again?

    Or is this lady related to Ohene Ntow and Kan Dapaah?

  14. It’s really sad when our leaders who are appointed to serve in the interest of our beloved country, could take bribes at the expense of our future generation.
    African herbs are good. But for the selfish interest of a few who hold power, they have disorganized our herbal pharmacy system in favour of the western world. Their acts have discouraged a lot of gifted herbalists, and some have died out of fraustration without sharing their gifted research work on herbs.

    I salute you Manesseh ! Continue your good works and God will definitely not forsake you.

  15. That’s the work of Manasseh Awuni. I’m not a fan of Manasseh but if his work is gud we must applaud him.
    The University in London took a supportive stand.
    More of these to weed out officials who are keeping Ghana down.
    Bravo Manasseh. Give us more!

  16. I’m numbed that a woman can do this and she’s still at post…Good job guys and May Gods continue to guide and protect you!

  17. I am very glad Thomas R. Kline School of Law and the Drexel University refused to admit the Cynthia Dapaa-Ntow. Ntow and her boss must gbe prosecuted. Kudos to Manasseh and Multimedia. Kudos to the Professor Ato Duncan for his role in exposing corruption in Ghana.

    • This is happening in all our institutions and unfortunately its become the new normal. Businessmen calculate these brides and add to their production cost. God help Ghana.

  18. I will not be surprised if the legal professional body in Ghana looks elsewhere as this headline news,as denting as it is to their image,without cracking the whip.Does the legal profession have any basic standards of professional ethics?

  19. You can show 'The Returned Bribe' documentary - Court tells Manasseh and JoyNews, throws out dismissed FDA lawyer’s injunction

    […] The FDA instituted internal disciplinary proceedings against Cynthia Dapaah-Ntow following an investigation by the Editor-in-Chief of The Fourth Estate, Manasseh Azure Awuni, that implicated her in a bribery scandal. […]

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