Banking | National

Accra High Court accepts Ato Essien’s ¢90m repayment terms

An Accra High Court has accepted the terms of settlement reached between the state and William Ato Essien, founder of defunct Capital Bank.

This comes on the back of an earlier rejection of the proposed settlement by the court.

Mr Essien has been charged with the offence of conspiracy to steal, stealing and money laundering.

In court on Tuesday, state prosecutors and lawyers for Ato Essien advanced arguments to convince the court that the terms of settlement reached between the two parties is the best deal for the state.

Per the agreement, Mr. Essien has already paid an amount of GH¢30 million out of the GH¢90 million he has agreed to pay.

In court on Tuesday, the presiding judge, justice Eric Kyei Baffour, invited the the prosecution and lawyers of Ato Essien to convince him on why he should accept the proposed terms of settlement.

Deputy Attorney-General, Alfred Tuah Yeboah, argued that section 35 of the Courts Act was applicable to the instant case because all the economic losses in the instant case were a burden on the state and not the shareholders.

He says Capital Bank was granted liquidity support in the sum of GH620 million through the Bank of Ghana, and out of that amount, Mr. Essien is accused of stealing or appropriating GH192.5 million. He stated that should Mr. Essien fail to pay the said amount, it will amount to an economic loss to the state and not to the shareholders of the bank.

The Attorney-General's second argument was that when the license of Capital Bank was revoked, their assets and liabilities were taken over by GCB, a bank belonging to the state. He further argued that it is the state that owes an amount of GH25 billion to depositors of the banks, and it is the state that is affected, not shareholders of the bank.

Counsel for William Ato Essien, Thaddeus Sory also argued that Ghana was in economic turmoil and anything that would be done to recover funds the state would have lost should be entertained.

Based on the argument, the judge accepted the terms of the settlement proposed by state prosecutors and the lawyers for William Ato Essien. The Judge, Justice Kyei Baffour, suspended the sentence of Mr. Essien and said if Mr. Essien goes against any of the charges,

Mr. Essien thus pleaded guilty to all the charges against him.

By the agreement, Mr. Essien who has already paid GH30 million is expected to pay the GH60 million in three installments that would end on the 15th December, 2023. When Mr. Essien fails to stick to the terms of the agreement, the court indicates that the suspended judgment will be revoked and he, Essien sentenced.

On the issue of why Mr. Essien is being made to pay GH90 million instead of GH192.5 million, the Attorney-General explains that Mr. Essien has, from the outset of the case, admitted stealing only GH 57.5 million, and the state got GH 32.5 million as reparation or compensation to the state. The two amounts of money, he says, sum up to GH90 million.

According to state prosecutors, they realized that an amount of GH35 million was also used by Capital African Group to acquire shares in Capital Bank, and that amount was also reversed and retained at the bank. The two amounts, which totaled GH100 million, were retained in the bank, leaving the money left for Mr. Essien to pay GH92.5 million. State prosecutors also indicated that the EOCO also retrieved GH1.3 million from Mr. Essien in the course of the investigations.

The two other accused persons, Rev. Fitzgerald Odonkor and Tetteh Nettey were acquitted and discharged by the court.

Deputy Attorney-General, Alfred Tuah Yeboah, expressed excitement that the state has been able to recover some funds for the state. He implied that the state gains nothing if it puts people into prison custody instead of making them pay for money they have stolen from the state.

DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.

DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.