A former bishop of the Lighthouse Chapel International (LCI), Larry Odonkor, on Friday walked out of an Accra Circuit court a free man after the court acquitted him of charges of stealing his social security contributions and income tax.

In siding with the accused, the court presided over by Ellen Ofei-Ayeh stated that the prosecution failed to prove the necessary ingredients of the alleged crime.

It is an end to 19 months of the case in which the LCI had alleged that Bishop Odonkor had pilfered funds that he should have used to pay his income tax and Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) contributions after he had written cheques for those purposes.

He was charged with two counts of dishonestly appropriating GH₵3,257.00 belonging to the church. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The court agreed with him and ruled that the prosecution failed to prove the intent to steal and that the accused had a legitimate claim of right to the money contrary to the church’s complaint to the police.

The judge also ruled that the prosecution failed to prove the salary of the accused which would have determined the accompanying tax and social security contributions.

The latest court decision is the third time the church has lost a case against Bishop Odonkor, who is one of six former ministers of the LCI, who sued the church in April 2021 for non-payment of their pension contributions, economic exploitation, and emotional abuse.

The church struck back, counter-sued all six, and filed criminal complaints against Mr Odonkor in Ghana and then later in Madagascar.

Last month, the same court in response to an application for a ” submission of no case to answer” filed by the accused, ruled that the accused had only one count to answer for, and dismissed the other charge against him.

The judge said having considered all the evidence on record, she did not “find any evidence has been led by the prosecution that the accused person in April 2020 appropriated funds to the sum of GHC 3,527.00 dishonestly, belonging to LCI, as charged under count two. It is for this reason he is accordingly acquitted on this charge as no case has been made on this count.”

Larry Odonkor and his lawyer, Kofi Bentil, had a fist bump in celebration after his acquittal at the Accra Circuit Court. Before his legal tussle with the church, Bishop Odonkor had headed branches of the church in South Africa and later, Madagascar. He spent at least a decade outside the country in the name of the LCI.

He returned to Ghana in January 2020 and was sent to Akim Oda in the Eastern Region to head the church’s branch there. He resigned four months later.

In December 2021, the LCI in Madagascar sued Bishop Odonkor, accusing him of selling the church’s Toyota Land Cruiser and pocketing the money. Lighthouse had asked the court to order Bishop Odonkor to cough up 80 million Ariary (GH¢157,200.00) in damages.

The court published its judgment in French, copies of which The Fourth Estate obtained and translated into English.

It said the court “hereby rules in favor of Larry Odonkor; declares all claims by Lighthouse Chapel International to be ill-founded and dismisses them all without prejudice…”

Read more here:

Lighthouse loses court case again


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