Ato Essien & Co Say State Has No Case

William Ato Essien 

An Accra High Court has set July 8, 2021 to deliver its ruling on a submission of no case applications filed respectively by the founder and Chief Executive Officer of defunct Capital Bank, Ato Essien and three others who are being tried for their alleged involvement in the misappropriation of funds, leading to the collapse of the private bank.

The court was to deliver its ruling on the submission of no case but some of the lawyers for the accused persons failed to meet the May 25, 2021 deadline set by the court to file their written submissions.

The court, presided over by Justice Eric Kyei Baffuor, a court of appeal judge sitting as an additional high court judge, was left with no other choice but to adjourn the matter.

The prosecution was waiting for defence counsel to respectively file their submissions before filing its response as the rules permit.

So far, three of the accused persons with the exception of Tetteh Nettey, have filed their submissions following the May 25 deadline given by the court, and Ato Essien filed his submission on Wednesday.

Main Trial

The defunct bank’s former Managing Director, Fitzgerald Odonkor together with Tetteh Nettey, a former Managing Director of MC Management Service owned by Mr. Essien, as well as a businesswoman, Kate Quartey-Papafio, are before the court, charged with 26 counts of conspiracy, stealing and money laundering.

The four are alleged to have misappropriated a total of GH¢620 million liquidity support given to the bank by the Bank of Ghana (BoG), to enable it to service its maturing debt.

The accused persons, according to the prosecution, opened various bank accounts with Capital Bank through which the GH¢620 million BoG liquidity support was transferred while others were carried in jute bags to Ato Essien.

Closed Case

The accused persons had indicated their intent to file submission of no case after the prosecution had closed its case on April 29, 2021.

The prosecution, led by Marina Appiah Opare, a Principal State Attorney, had called 17 witnesses to prove its case.

Justice Kyei Baffuor, after the defence lawyers indicated their intent to push for a submission of no case, then ordered them to file their written submissions by close of May 25, 2021.

The prosecution was then given up to June 8, 2021 to file its response to all the submissions made on behalf of the accused persons.

But lawyers for Ato Essien and Tetteh Nettey failed to meet the deadline set by the court hence, forcing an adjournment until July 8.

Essien’s Lawyer

Appearing before the court yesterday, Baffuor Gyau Bonsu, who held brief for Thaddeus Sory, counsel for Ato Essien, told the court that their office had some practical challenges which was why they could not file their submission on time.

He, however, informed the court that they had filed their submission on June 9, 2021.

Nettey’s Lawyer

Addo Atuah, counsel for Tetteh Nettey, on his part, told the court that he had a mix up with the timeline given by the court as he was not present in court the day the order was made.

He pleaded with the court to give him one last opportunity to file his submission, noting the liberty of his client was at stake and would not do anything to jeopardise it.

The prosecution, represented by Marina Appiah Opare, told the court that in view of the fact that counsel for Mr. Nettey had asked for a few days to file his submission, the prosecution should be given up to June 17, to file its response to all the submissions.

Justice Kyei Baffuor in his ruling gave counsel for Mr. Nettey up to June 15 to file his submission, while the prosecution was given up to June 18, 2021 to file its response to all the submissions.

The court adjourned the matter to July 8, 2021 for ruling.

“The court fixed the 25 of May 2021, as the date by which the written submissions of no case to answer was to have been filed by the lawyers for the accused persons. By the time the period set by the court expired, it was only the lawyers for the 3rd (Fitzgerald Odonkor) and 4th (Kate Quartey-Papafio) accused persons had complied with the timelines set by the court.

Counsel for the first accused (Ato Essien) informs me that he has filed one just yesterday whiles counsel for the second (Tetteh Nettey) accused is yet to file and prays for an extension of time to so file.

“I graciously grant extension of time for counsel for the second accused to file the written submission of no case to answer by 15th of June, 2021. The republic is to file a response to all the submissions by the 18th of June 2021,” Justice Kyei Baffuor ruled.

BY Gibril Abdul Razak