William Ato Essien, a former Chief Executive Officer of defunct Capital Bank, has agreed to plead guilty in the GH₵620 million Bank of Ghana liquidity support misappropriation trial.
His agreement to a guilty plea is part of a settlement deal between him and the state, which could also mean he might walk free after refunding only GHS90 million of the GHS620 million he is on trial for allegedly stealing between 2015 and 2016.
The court scheduled December 1 to deliver its judgment after three years of trial, but has adjourned the matter to Tuesday, December 13, for the prosecution and lawyers of the accused to properly address it on Section 35 of Act 459 of the Courts Act, which relates to restitution and reparation.
The court presided over by Justice Eric Kyei Baffour, a Court of Appeal Judge sitting with additional responsibility as a High Court Judge, in its ruling on the settlement terms, held that the law on restitution and reparation was not applicable in the instant case and found the agreement reached between the state and Essien complex and unacceptable.
The trial Judge, therefore, adjourned the matter for the state and Essien’s lawyers to address him properly on the terms of the settlement.
He explained that the issues of restitution and reparation could be considered before the trial commences or during the trial.
The court therefore questioned the basis for the restitution or reparation in the instant matter before it.
Meanwhile, the court noted that Ato Essien had already refunded GH₵30 million to the state.
However, the state in considering the settlement terms did not consider the value of the depreciated money over the years.
According to the court, it was important for the state to consider the value of the money in relation to the current exchange rates.
Justice Kyei Baffour held that if the accused could refund the money without paying interest that will amount to partial restitution and make committing crime attractive.
The agreement should not appear to have outwitted the state in the crime.
It noted that the money in question was for the depositors and shareholder of defunct Capital Bank although the Bank of Ghana was the complainant in the case.
Ato Essien, majority shareholder of Capital Bank is standing trial with Rev Fitzgerald Odonkor, a former MD of Capital Bank and Tettey Nettey, MD of MC Management Services, a company allegedly owned by Essien.
GH₵620 BoG liquidity support
The accused persons were said to have misappropriated GH₵620 million liquidity support offered by the Bank of Ghana to Capital Bank.
They have denied the various charges namely stealing, abetment of crime, conspiracy to steal and money laundering.
The case of the state is that between June and November 2015, pursuant to an application by Capital Bank, BoG provided a total sum of GH₵620 million as Liquidity Support to Capital Bank to enable it to meet its capital adequacy ratio as well as enable it service the maturing debt of meditation.
But Essien et al applied the GHS620 million for their private benefits as reflected in several transfers to their private businesses.
GH₵120 million transferred to All Time Capital Limited
Prosecution said in October 2015, Essien, aided by Rev Odonkor, caused a transfer of a sum of GH₵120 million of the Liquidity Support to All Time Capital Limited, an investment management and advisory firm.
GH₵100m transferred to MC Management Services
The state said at the instance of Essien and Odonkor, GH₵100 million of the GH₵120 million, which had been transferred to All Time Capital, was further transferred to MC Management Services.
GH₵20m transferred to Pronto Construction
The remaining GH₵20 million of the amount was transferred to Pronto Construction and Supplies Limited.
GH₵100m used as capital to set up Sovereign Bank
According to Prosecution, the GH₵100 million, which was transferred to MC Management Services, was subsequently represented by Nettey to BoG as initial capital of Sovereign Bank while the GH₵20 million that was transferred to Pronto Construction and Supplies Limited was used by its Managing Director, ostensibly to purchase shares in Capital Bank.
GH₵65m transferred to Nordea Capital Limited
Prosecution said again, at the instance of Essien and Rev Odonkor, GH₵65 million out of the BoG’s Liquidity Support of GH₵620 million was transferred to Nordea Capital Limited, described as an investment bank.
GH₵30m transferred to MC Management Services
The state averred that of the GH₵65 million, Essien, aided by Odonkor, caused GH₵30 million to be transferred to MC Management Services, which was represented to the BoG as additional initial capital of Sovereign Bank by Nettey.
GH₵35m transferred to Bristling Services
The remaining GH₵35 million being paid into Fidelity Bank Account of Bristling Services, a company established by Essien.
GH₵35m again transferred to Capital Africa Group
At the request of Essien, the GH₵35 million, which was transferred into the Bristling Account, was subsequently transferred to Capital Africa Group, a company owned by Essien.
GH₵130m then transferred to Capital Africa Group
Prosecution said the total amount of GH₵130 million represented as initial capital of Sovereign Bank was eventually channeled by Essien and Nettey into Capital Africa Group with less bank charge, and which they eventually dissipated.
GH₵27.5m allocated to business promotion
Between June 2015 and October 2016, Essien, with the support of Rev Odonkor, appropriated a total of GH₵27.5 million of the Liquidity Support, which was conveyed in jute bags to Essien and purportedly used as payment for business promotion.
GH₵100m paid to MDs of 3 companies
Prosecution said in June 2017, in furtherance of the conversion of the portion of GH₵620 million Liquidity Support, Essien caused GH₵100 million to be paid into a Capital Bank Account held by the Managing Director of three companies; Mariposa Enterprise Limited, Hardwick Limited and Volta Impex Enterprise Limited.
The state submitted that the three companies were purposely to receive the amount (GH₵100 million).
Prosecution said that amount was to be used by the Managing Director ostensibly as payment for 30% shares in Capital Bank.
Prosecution said Essien prevailed on the Managing Director to submit copies of government payment certificates of the three companies valued at GH₵135 million to be discounted at GH₵105 million by Capital Bank, and to be used as collateral for the purported loan of GH₵100 million.
GH₵70m transferred to account of Kate Papafio
The State said Essien then caused GH₵70 million out of the GH₵100 million that had previously been paid into the Managing Director’s account at Capital Bank to be transferred to Kate’s account at CAL Bank Limited.
Prosecution said Essien and Kate subsequently caused the GH₵70-million to be further transferred into Kate Papafio’s personal account at Capital Bank, adding that the account was purposely opened to receive the amount.
Sometime in 2017, prosecution said after Capital Bank had received the money, Papafio, even though fully aware that Capital Bank had gone into liquidation, attempted to withdraw the whole amount of GH₵70 million but was, however, prevented by the receivers (Capital Bank).