The Judicial Service yesterday issued a statement that Justice Eric Kyei Baffour, a judge of the Court of Appeal, never stated that the state was compromised in the matter of agreement entered into by the state and William Ato Essien for the settlement of GHC90 million to the state by the accused.
Ato Essien and one other are standing trial for various offences that allegedly led to the collapse of Capital Bank in 2018.
Criminal prosecutions were conducted before Justice Baffour, then the presiding judge of Accra High Court (Commercial Division 7).
On Thursday, December 1, 2022, Justice Baffour was ready to read judgement on charges of misappropriation against Ato Essien, the founder of defunct Capital Bank, but was prompted by the registrar of the court about an agreement reached between the accused and the state to settle GHC90 million to the state subject to the acceptance of the court and in pursuance of section 35 of the Courts Act, 1993(Act 459).
Following that, Justice Baffour, who is now a Court of Appeal judge sitting with additional responsibility, said “Just yesterday the registrar of the court brought to my attention a document captioned ‘Agreement between the Republic and Ato Essien.’ I have a number of issues and until I am satisfied, I will not accept it.”
But some media reports misrepresented that by saying the judge said the state had been “compromised”, prompting the Judicial Service to issue a statement to clarify proceedings on December 1.
According to the statement signed by Justice Cynthia Pamela Addo, the Judicial Secretary and Court of Appeal Judge, “No statement in the nature of the media reports referred to the above, or imputing misconduct on the part of officials of the State, was made by the court either on December 1, 2022 or throughout the trial of the case.”
The statement said “He (the trial Judge) enquired from one of the defence lawyers whose client has been charged with offence of abetment and conspiracy, whether the terms of the agreement entered between the State and the 1st accused would not compromise the position of the other accused persons.”
Essien is standing trial with Fitzgerald Odonkor, a former Managing Director (MD) of Capital Bank, and Tetteh Nettey, the MD of MC Management Services, a company owned by Mr Essien.
The prosecution accused the three persons of engaging in various illegal acts that led to the misapplication of a GH¢620 million liquidity support given to Capital Bank by the Bank of Ghana between June 2015 and November 2016.
The accused have pleaded not guilty to various counts of stealing, abetment to stealing, conspiracy to steal and money laundering.
BY MALIK SULLEMNA