Former Chief Executive of defunct Capital Bank , William Ato Essien has narrowly escaped prison custody in his ongoing case with the state with regards to financial malfeasance and embezzlement of funds which led to the collapse of the bank.
The latest development comes on the back of an Accra High Court giving him an extended time to liquidate his assets and follow the payment plan agreed on between both parties in an earlier settlement submitted to the court.
The Office of Attorney General led by the Deputy AG, Alfred Tuah-Yeboah had been praying to the court to commit Ato Essien who earlier in the trial pleaded guilty to stealing public resources into prison custody for breaching the terms of the agreement to pay the outstanding amount of Gh55 million to state coffers.
A Court of Appeal Judge with additional responsibility as a High Court Judge, Justice Eric Kyei Baffour in his ruling added that, the lawyers of Ato Essien had filed an affidavit in opposition to the request of the state disclosing that their client was taking urgent steps to liquidate his assets to offset the amount due to the state.
The lawyers indicated that Ato Essien was in the process of liquidating some of his assets amounting to about $300,000 to offset a part of the payment due for settlement.
The Judge said he wanted to give the convict a life line and hoped that he will do his possible best to raise funds and pay off the money.
The court as a result did not allow the Deputy Attorney General, Alfred Tuah-Yeboah, to move the prosecution’s application seeking the court to commit Mr. Essien to jail.
“I have perused through the application and the affidavit in opposition. If I were to allow the learned Deputy Attorney General to move the application I would be compelled to deliver my ruling in respect of the application. I have taken notice that the convict has taken steps to liquidate some assets in Essien Swiss International Holdings for which he is the sole shareholder and is expecting huge sums of monies as he has indicated in the affidavit for which he had deposed to,” Justice Kyei Baffour held.
He added that “If indeed the depositions in the affidavit have been made bona fide, time will vindicate that. Accordingly, I will hasten slowly and adjourn the application to the 4th of July, 2023, to enable the convict redeem the monies outstanding as agreed per the agreement with the republic.”
Mr. Essien was standing trial for stealing from the GH¢620 million liquidity support given to the struggling bank in 2015, which led to its insolvency and subsequent collapse but managed to stay out of prison after reaching an agreement with the Office of the Attorney General to plead guilty, pay the amount stolen as well as restitution.
Per the agreement, he was to pay an amount of GH¢30 million by December 1, 2022, which had already been paid.
He will then pay the remaining GH¢60 million in three installments of GH¢20 million each, with the first installment scheduled to be paid on April 28, 2023, the second one on August 31, 2023, and the last on December 15, 2023.