Trial of William Ato Essien, who is charged with three others for allegedly playing various roles leading to the collapse of Capital Bank, is set to continue on July 9, in spite of ongoing refund negotiations between counsel for the accused and the prosecution.
Three weeks ago, lawyers for Mr Essien who is the former Chief Executive Officer of Capital Bank intimated to the Commercial Division ‘7’ of the Accra High Court that their client was willing and ready to return about GH¢27.5 million to the state.
Mr Ato Essien begun negotiations with the Attorney General pursuant to section 35 of the Courts Act, which allows for an offer of compensation or restitution in respect of some of the charges brought against the accused.
At proceedings yesterday, Principal State Attorney, Mrs Marina Opare Appiah told the court that negotiations were still ongoing and that the prosecution finds the first proposal from the accused totally unacceptable.
She said subject to the convenience of the court, trial of the case should proceed even, if both parties were able to reach a consensus by the next adjourned date.
Mr Essien’s lawyers had revealed that his client had already paid close to GH₵ 1.4 million and also given out some 19 newly cleared cars from the port to the state.
Mr Essien and three former executives of the defunct bank, Fitzgerald Odonkor, Kate Quartey-Papafio and Tetteh Nettey are facing 26 charges levelled against them by the state.
The prosecution, then led by the Attorney General (AG), Ms Gloria Afua Akuffo, said the accused engaged in various illegal acts that led to the dissipation of the GH¢620 million liquidity support given to Capital Bank by the Bank of Ghana between June 2015 and November 2016.
It is the case of the prosecution that Essien was aided by Odonkor to transfer the liquidity support to certain companies either controlled by him or in which he had an interest.
According to the AG, GH¢ 130 million of the liquidity support was transferred to MC Management Services, which was later presented to the BoG as the initial capital to set up Sovereign Bank, another bank in which Essien had an interest.
She further alleged that between June and October 2015, Essien, aided by Odonkor, appropriated GH¢27.5 million of the liquidity support by carrying it in jute bags, adding that “The money was purportedly used as payment for business promotion.”
Ms Akuffo also accused Essien of giving some liquidity support to his cronies in the form of a loan to be used to buy shares in Capital Bank.
With regard to Quartey-Papafio, the A-G said as part of the scheme to further dissipate the GH¢620 million liquidity support, Essien transferred GH¢ 70 million of the money into Quartey-Papafio’s bank account at Cal Bank.
The AG accused Quartey-Papafio of trying to withdraw the money in 2017, even though she was aware that Capital Bank had collapsed and was in receivership; the withdrawal, however, was prevented by the receivers of Capital Bank.
During his application for bail, counsel for Quartey-Papafio, Dr Dominic Ayine, a former Deputy A-G, rebutted the facts presented by the A-G, and described the case as a ground-breaking one in the country’s jurisprudence, adding that “this is going to be the first case in the history of this country that stealing has occurred with the consent of the owner,”
Making his case, he argued that the GH¢620 million liquidity support was essentially a loan that was granted to Capital Bank by the BoG, which was supposed to be paid with interest, saying “essentially, this was money belonging to Capital Bank.”
Counsel further submitted that per Section 60 of the Companies Act, 2019 (Act 992), there was nothing wrong with a lending institution giving out loans for people to buy in that institution.
BY MALIK SULLEMANA