The founder of the now-defunct Capital Bank, William Ato Essien, and state prosecutors attempted to reach an agreement, but the Accra High Court rejected it.
On December 1, 2022, the Court was prepared to issue its ruling in the case involving Mr. Essien and another person who have been accused of stealing depositors’ money. The Court was presided over by Justice Kyei Baffour, a Justice of the Court of Appeal, who was sitting as an additional High Court judge at the time.
Attorneys for the accused and the prosecution informed the court that they had come to a GH90 million payback agreement plan as compensation to the state before the judge could continue.
The agreement, according to the accused, was pursuant to Section 35 of the Courts Act, 1993 (Act 459), which allows an accused person to plead guilty and pay restitution to the state in cases in which there has been a financial loss to the state.
However, the judge, in ruling on the said agreement, flatly rejected the plan, which would have seen Mr. Essien pay the said amount in various installments within the year.
Notwithstanding that the accused person has already made a payment of GH¢30 million out of the total amount due to the state, the judge refused the agreement, according to a report by Starrfm.com.gh sighted by GhanaWeb.
According to the report, the court, in its own description, said the agreement, as it were, has the potential to make crime ”attractive” considering the value of the amount in question in 2015 and today.
“It should not be made to appear that he has outwitted the state in the commission of a crime,” Justice Kyei Baffour is also quoted in a report by Graphic.com.gh.
Justice Eric Kyei Baffour further observed that Section 35 cannot actually be activated within the context as the monies involved do not belong to the state but rather to depositors and shareholders of the defunct Capital Bank.
Justice Kyei Baffour thus adjourned the case to December 13, 2022, asking that the prosecution and the accused come back with a better deal and a superior argument for their agreement to be admitted under Section 35 of Act 459.
Ato Essien is on trial with the Managing Director (MD) of the defunct bank, Fitzgerald Odonkor, and the MD of MC Management Services, a company said to be owned by Essien, Tettey Nettey.
The prosecution has accused the three persons of engaging in various illegal acts that led to the dissipation of a chunk of the GH¢620 million in liquidity support given to the Capital Bank by the BoG between June 2015 and November 2016.
The accused persons have pleaded not guilty to various counts of theft, abetment to stealing, conspiracy to steal, and money laundering.
They maintained their innocence all throughout the trial, with Ato Essien maintaining at all material moments that he had board approval for all the actions he took.