Ghana: Collapsed Capital Bank Case - Ato Essien, 3 Others Granted Gh¢800 Million Bail

16 October 2019

William Ato Essien, a former founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of collapsed Capital Bank, and three others, standing trial over the collapse of the financial institution, appeared before the Accra High Court, yesterday.

The four, who are facing 26 charges, including stealing and money laundering, were granted GH¢200 million bail each with four sureties.

The three others are Fitzgerald Odonkor, also former CEO of Capital Bank, Kate Quartey-Papafio, CEO of Reroy Cables Limited, and Tetteh Nettey, Managing Director of MC Management Services Limited.

As part of the bail condition, the four defendants have been asked to deposit their passports at the court, and provide four sureties each.

They all pleaded not guilty to all the charges and would appear before court on November 20.

The Attorney-General (AG) and Minister of Justice, Ms Gloria Akuffo, presented the facts of the case before Justice Eric Kyei Baffour, the presiding judge.

Ms Akuffo said Mr Ato Essien and Tettey Nettey acting together between October and November 2015, conspired to steal GH¢100 million belonging to Capital Bank.

She told the court that liquidity support amounting to GH¢620 million handed by the Bank of Ghana (BoG) to revive Capital Bank was appropriated and transferred to various companies owned by Mr Essien.

The charge of abetment was also read, citing Mr Odonkor for conspiring with Mr Ato Essien and Mr Nettey to appropriate Capital Bank's GH¢100 million within the same period.

Ms Akuffo cited the four defendants for laundering money between October and November in 2015, as they converted GH¢100 million knowing it was proceeds of crime.

Some of this liquidity support, she said, was also presented by MC Management Services, also owned by Mr Essien, as initial capital to acquire a banking licence for the defunct Sovereign Bank.

According to Ms Akuffo, GH¢70 million was also deposited in the private account of one Kate Papafio, a businesswoman, after which an account was created by Kate at Capital Bank, where the amount was later transferred into.

Ms Akuffo revealed that Mrs Papafio later attempted to withdraw the money but was prevented from doing so.

However in an interview with journalists after the proceedings, lawyer for Madam Papafio, Dr Dominic Ayine, stated that the case was a groundbreaking one since "this is the first time stealing has occurred with the consent of the owner".

He also mentioned the GH¢620 million described as liquidity support was a loan to be paid with interest, insisting that his client had not engaged in any illegitimate banking transactions.

It is recalled that In November 2018, the receivers of the collapsed Capital Bank, Mr Vish Ashiagbor and Mr Eric Nipah, both of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), instituted a civil action against Essien and 13 shareholders and directors for allegedly engaging in acts that led to the collapse of the bank.

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