FDA sacks Head of Legal over “The Returned Bribe” scandal

The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has terminated the appointment of its Head of Legal Affairs, Mrs. Cynthia Dapaah-Ntow after a disciplinary committee found her guilty of misconduct.

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.

The disciplinary committee requested and was given the television version of Manasseh’s investigative documentary even though Mrs. Cynthia Dapaah-Ntow, had sought a court injunction against the broadcast.

Internal Memo

An internal memo sent to the staff of the FDA Tuesday evening by the Head of Human Resource reads:

“Management would like to inform Staff that effective 18th May 2021, Mrs. Cynthia Dapaah-Ntow, Head of Legal, will cease to be a staff of the FDA. The decision was arrived at after Mrs. Cynthia Dapaah-Ntow was taken through the internal disciplinary process of the Authority, following a charge of misconduct leveled against her.

“The Disciplinary Committee recommended to the Board that the appointment of Mrs. Cynthia Dapaah-Ntow be terminated. The Board has subsequently accepted the recommendation and given her the required notice of termination of appointment.

“The Staff are also hereby informed that the Investigative Committee exonerated the CEO of all allegations of wrongdoing on her part.

“Management appreciates the patience exhibited by all Staff while the disciplinary process lasted.

“As a matured [sic] regulatory agency whose core values include transparency, fairness, and integrity, the Authority reiterates its zero-tolerance for bribery and corruption and reaffirms its commitments to the staff.”

US-based university denies Cynthia Dapaah-Ntow admission

Last week, The Fourth Estate broke the story of how Mrs. Cynthia Dapaah-Ntow was denied admission to the Thomas R. Kline School of Law at the Drexel University in Philadelphia, USA, because of “The Returned Bribe” investigation.

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.

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

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.

23 COMMENTS

  1. “Africa needs a new type of citizen, a dedicated, modest, honest, informed citizen. A citizen who submerges self in service to the nation and mankind. A citizen who abhors greed and detests vanity. A new type of citizen whose humility is his strength and whose integrity is his greatness. ” By Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.
    Africa must unite, page130

  2. Well done my brother in law. May the Almighty Allah guide and protect you always.
    Can you now broadcast the said video now

  3. I believe this is largely due to her lack of admission by a USA university on the same matter. Did it have to take this long for FDA to act?

  4. I applaud the university for rejecting her admission. This will wake the judges up. This is a criminal offence, and the latter of this case must be heard soon. Sacking her should not end there. People like her are the reason why businesses suffer in Ghana. Selfish and greediness fills her heart.
    Great job Team FOURTH ESTATE GHANA.

  5. Hi Evans, nice article. You referred to one Prof. Samuel Ato Duncan in your article who is the CEO of COA. Do you know where he completed his studies or which university conferred the Professorship on him? I have been trying to read some of his publications but can’t find any. Thank you.

  6. I think it’s about time we make Nkrumah’s books available to all schools in Africa to consciously work on students mindset.God continue to bless his soul

  7. A whole reputation has ruined completely. I thought only men are so currupt in Ghana, but women are more poisoning to this extent.

  8. Shame on her … Most of our leaders are corrupt and same permeates every aspect of our society🇬🇭💪✍🏼🙏🏼

  9. When was the last time BNI investigated a public servant for corruption…should investigation for corruption always comes from the journalists. EOCO time calling now !!!

  10. If you won’t help the guy to improve his drug and make it a worldwide brand, why stifle the little progress and inroads he is making. She asked him for money for what, so they ok his drug?
    We never support our own.

  11. Snr Manasseh,
    You be too much. If I were a good writer, I would have loved to be your apprentice paaa ooo.
    Your pieces really get me inspired a lot. I love your art.

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