The founder of the defunct Capital Bank, William Ato Essien, who is facing 27 charges in court for the collapse of the bank, has pleaded with the court to give him the chance to make an out-of-court settlement.
Ato Essien, through his counsel, yesterday, told an Accra high court that he is willing to refund GH¢27.5 million back to the state. Baffour Gyewu Bonsu, lawyer for Mr Essien, told the court that his client had already paid GH¢1.4 million of the GH¢27.5 million.
The lawyers revealed that, apart from the amount paid, he has also given out some 19 newly cleared cars from the port to the state. He disclosed that discussions were still ongoing with the prosecution and therefore the court should adjourn the case to enable the discussions to continue.
Ato Essien and Fitzgerald Odonkor, former Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, respectively, of the defunct Capital Bank, have been sued by the state for their various roles leading to the collapse of the bank. The two, together with Kate Quartey-Papafio and Tetteh Nettey, both shareholders of the bank, are facing 27 different counts.
Ato Essien is facing 19 different counts of conspiracy to steal, contrary to sections 23(1) and 124(1) of the Criminal Offences, Act, 1960 (Act 29); stealing, contrary to section 124(1) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29); and money laundering, contrary to section 1(1)(a) of the Anti-Money Laundering Act 2008 (Act 749).
In count one, he is accused of acting together, with a common purpose, with Tetteh Nettey, between October and November 2015, to steal the sum of GH¢100,000,000, the property of Capital Bank Limited. He is also accused in count three of actually stealing the said amount with Mr Nettey. Fitzgerald Odonkor is accused in count two of abetting with Ato Essien and Tetteh Nettey to dishonestly appropriate the sum of GH¢100,000,000.
Both Ato Essien and Tetteh Nettey are accused in count four of money laundering, contrary to section 1(1)(a) of the Anti-Money Laundering Act 2008 (Act 749). They have been accused of converting the sum of GH¢100,000,000, knowing it to be proceeds of crime.
The two have also been accused in counts five, seven and eight of conspiracy to steal and stealing GHC30million, and converting the said amount, knowing it to be proceeds of crime.
They are also accused in count 10 and 11 of stealing and converting GHC35million, knowing to be proceeds of crime and in counts 13 and 14 of stealing and converting GHC2million, among other counts, all relating to conspiracy to steal, stealing and money laundering.
Mr Odonkor has also been accused of abetting the two in all the dealings. He is accused in counts six, nine, 12, 15, among others.
Attacks on Ken Ofori-Atta
Ato Essien, following the closure of his bank and others, described the BoG’s decision as unnecessary.
He said the decision to collapse the bank was akin to paying ¢1,000 to destroy a car that needs only ¢100 to save it.
He further accused the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, of perpetuating a personal vendetta against him, in view of his supposed rejection of his decision to buy his bank.
He argued that if his bank was not being well managed, it would not have attracted interest from the Minister.
“If our bank was that bad, our current Finance Minister, together with the CEO of Enterprise Group, Kelly Gadzekpo, won’t have come to our office to say they were interested in buying the bank,” he told Paul Adom Otchere in a Good Evening Ghana show. It later turned out that whatever discussions that had gone on between Mr Essien and Mr Ofori-Atta had taken place long before the latter became the Minister of Finance.
A chief state attorney, Mrs Mariana Appiah Oppong, confirming to the court, said lawyers for Ato Essien had indeed informed her about their intention to pay the amount.
She, however, said the lawyers must bring a detailed proposal to the Director for Public Prosecution (DPP), and after a review the DPP would make a determination whether to accept it or not.
The court, presided over by Justice Eric Kyei-Baffour, has therefore, given lawyers for Ato Essien one month to send the proposal to the DPP.
Hearing was adjourned to June 18, 2020 during which the prosecution is expected to report to the court whether or not it has accepted the proposal.