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Madagascar court jails former Lighthouse pastor for car theft

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Pastor Larry Odonkor, formerly with Lighthouse Chapel International (LCI), has been jailed for two years by a Court of Appeal in Madagascar for fraudulently selling the church’s car and embezzling proceeds.

Documents made available to the GNA said the court further ordered Larry Odonkor to pay the church the value of the car. The value of the Toyota Land Cruiser is said to be about GHC200, 000.

In a default judgement, the court found him guilty on the charge of fraudulent breach of trust.

In the default judgement, the court held that the former pastor had “embezzled or dissipated” various sums of money “to the detriment of the owners of Madagascar LCI ”

The documents made available to the GNA said the LCI filed complaints of fraudulent breach of trust, money laundering, stealing and defrauding by false pretences against Pastor Odonkor.

The prosecution’s case before the court was that Pastor Odonkor was the head pastor of LCI-Madagascar till December 2019 when he moved to Accra.

The prosecution indicated that it was discovered by the new head pastor that the official vehicle of the church assigned to Pastor Odonkor while in Madagascar could not be found.

Upon enquiry, it came to light that Pastor Odonkor instructed three different people to help him sell the car before he left Madagascar.

According to the prosecution, his assistant Pastor, Edmund Amartey, who was a volunteer pastor, was one of those he instructed to sell the car for him.

Pastor Edmund Amartey, who was unaware that the car did not belong to Pastor Odonkor, sold the car and gave him all the proceeds.

The Prosecution, during the hearing, tendered screenshots of WhatApp chats between Pastor Odonkor and Edmund Amartey, showing that Larry Odonkor instructed his assistant to sell the car and directed him to send all the proceeds of the sale to be paid to him.

It also tendered WhatsApp chats between Pastor Odonkor and an Administrator of LCI-Ghana as part of evidence.

According to the prosecutor, Larry Odonkor also found a sly way of receiving part of the proceeds of the sale in Accra through an administrator of LCI-Ghana without disclosing that the money was part of the proceeds of the illegal car. That was the basis of the allegation of money laundering.

The church did not file a complaint against Pastor Edmund but the court on its own made him co-accused due to the role he played in the sale.

He was however acquitted and discharged by the court.

This was because the court found out that he innocently helped Pastor Odonkor to sell the car and he did not benefit from the sale of the proceeds.

As part of his defence, Pastor Edmund produced a written apology from Larry Odonkor to him after he had challenged Larry for accusing him in a publication by the Fourth Estate of selling the car and not disclosing where the money went to.

In a rejoinder to the publication Pastor Edmund produced all the WhatApp chats to disprove Larry’s claims on car sale. Following the incontrovertible evidence in the rejoinder, Larry apologised to Pastor Edmund Amartey

LCI – Madagascar says it had been informed that Pastor Odonkor who was jailed in absentia, has appealed against the decision of the Court.

He must appear in person in Madagascar to contest the judgment, the document said.

Meanwhile, an arrest warrant has been issued for the arrest of Pastor Odonkor, anytime he enters the territory of Madagascar.

Source: GNA

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