Ato Essien, the former CEO of the now-defunct Capital Bank, was given a 15-year prison term with hard labor.
This is in response to his refusal to pay the state the entire amount of GH 90 million that he pledged to pay despite being given many opportunities to do so since December 2022.
For his involvement in the demise of Capital Bank, Ato Essien entered a guilty plea to 16 counts of theft, money laundering, and conspiracy to steal.
However, in accordance with Section 35(7) of the Courts Act 459, he reached a plea agreement with the State.
According to the contract, Mr. Essien was required to pay Gh90 million, which he did on December 13 by paying Gh30 million cedis.
The remaining GH60 million was to be paid by him in three equal installments in 2023: the first GH20 million was due on April 28, the second GH20 million was due on August 31, and the third GH20 million was due on December 15, 2023.
One of the key terms of the agreement was that if he failed to make any of the payment dates, the court would not hesitate to impose a jail sentence.
However, as of April 28, Mr. Essien had not settled the remaining GH20 million.
On May 2, 2023, the state submitted an application to have the convict (Ato Essien) sentenced to a facility.
When the court constituted today 12 October 2023, Baffour Gyau Bonsu Ashia, lawyer for William Ato Essien told the court that his client has not been able to pay the agreed sum yet and that he will require some more time to be able to make good his promise.
“My Lord, we have not been able to pay the agreed sums. At the last two sittings a letter had been written from the office of Robert Akya informing the court that they have gotten a judgement against Essien Swiss international for which reason they had an interest in the proprieties which Essien Swiss had assigned to Panarico company limited.
“We took steps and realised that it is true that the had secured judgement against Essien Swiss. This piece of information forced Panarico to cease payment as agreed under the sale of assets agreement between Essien Swiss and Panarico Co. Ltd.
“My instructions are that steps were taken to engage Kuy travel and tour, the creditor to relative the issue. As I speak there is an appeal pending against the judgment of the high court.
However, that application was not considered because Justice Eric Kyei Baffour, the presiding judge, ordered Ato Essien roughly six months to make amends.
However, in addition to the GH30 million already paid, Ato Essien only made a GH7 million payment between January of this year and October 12.
The judge lost all tolerance with GH53 million remaining from the agreed-upon amount and authorized the state to move the application.
These funds seized from the bank cannot be viewed as just another instance of theft. They were murdered by a thief who acted on impulse. In his aim to own a second sovereign bank independent from capital, he displayed pure avarice.
The 37 million that was returned to the republic after conviction has been known to the court. He entered a guilty plea after three years of wasting the court’s time and forcing the republic to call 17 witnesses.
Many innocent people who lost their employment are still looking for work. To pay back the bank’s customers, the republic had to spend enormous sums of money.
After hearing the application, the judge sentenced Ato Essien to 15 years in prison.