Founder of defunct Capital Bank, William Ato Essien

Founder of defunct Capital Bank, William Ato Essien, says he is willing to cough up ¢130 million of the ¢620 million his company is said to have embezzled before its liquidation.

Ato Essien and two others have been accused of siphoning liquidity support of ¢620 million bailouts given by the Bank of Ghana to Capital Bank to service its maturing debt.

The banker, his former Managing Director Fitzgerald Odonkor and former Director of Mr Essien’s MC Management Services are currently facing 23 counts of money laundering, conspiracy to steal and stealing.

The prosecution says the suspects opened bank accounts with the Capital Bank through which the BoG’s money was transferred.

They are also accused of carrying jute bags of money to Mr Ato Essien as payment for ‘business promotion’.

Lawyers for the embattled banker had earlier proposed to refund the ¢27.5 million, which is said to have been carried in the bags.

But arguing in an Accra High Court on January 13, the embattled CEO’s counsel, Baffuor Gyau Bonsu Ashia, who held brief for Thaddeus Sory, updated this prayer.

“We have also included GH¢130 million that also forms part of the charges,” he said on Thursday.

He further told the court that talks were far advanced with the prosecution “to the extent that the prosecution has written to us dated December 30, 2021, where the prosecution has made its stance very clear.”

The only issue under contention currently, according to Baffuor Ashia, is the amount to be refunded.

“The only difficulty between us as defence counsel and the prosecution is the quantum which an independent auditor can easily resolve.”

But the judge, Justice Kyei Baffuor, is not convinced by the letter communicating the Defence lawyer’s negotiation with the prosecution.

Upon assessment of the document, he deemed the letter as a near rejection of the proposal from Ato Essien’s counsel.

He disagrees with the assertion that both parties were on the same page as far as the ¢130 million amount is concerned.

However, the judge said the trial will continue as planned. He insisted that he will hold on to his judgment if the parties have not concluded negotiations by the end of the trial.

Justice Kyei Baffuor added that he will have no hand in deciding whether the prosecution should pursue the case any further, once an agreement has been reached.

Judge frustrated

The judge had expressed frustration with counsel for William Ato Essien’s attitude towards his ongoing trial on that same day.

The court presided over by Justice Eric Kyei Baffuor cautioned that the banker’s lawyer’s slow approach could leave it no option but to revoke his bail.

This came after the legal team failed to file their documents to ensure the smooth running of the trial.

The lawyer for the accused, Baffuor Gyau Bonsu Ashia, told the court that they only got the requested documents from the defunct bank’s Receiver on January 12, giving them little time to comply with the order.

But the judge would have none of that.

Justice Kyei Baffuor reminded Ato Essien that his conditions for granting bail include the accused’s ability to cooperate with the court.

The judge further wondered why Mr Essien’s lawyer did not use a subpoena to obtain the documents if they encountered any difficulty.

This means Mr Essien could be incarcerated for the rest of the duration of ¢620 million case if this continues.

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