Ato Essien Down, Many More To Go!


I don’t remember exactly where I was or what I was doing when the news reached me. But I vividly remember leaping for joy because I’ve prayed day and night for it to come to pass.

Yes, you guessed right. The incarceration of the founder of Asomdwekrom’s defunct Capital Bank, William Ato Essien, on October 12, 2023, is what I refer to. He received a15-year jail term.

Essien was convicted and sentenced by a High Court in Nkrankrom for stealing over 90 million cowries (GH¢) of Bank of Asomdwekrom’s liquidity support to the now-defunct financial institution. This was after his inability to fully pay the said amount back to the state after agreeing to do so, despite being afforded the opportunity.

Justice Eric Kyei Baffour confirmed what we already knew when he held that Essien exploited Capital Bank to his advantage and dissipated the funds of the bank without taking into consideration the depositors of the bank. Listen to him: “The convict demonstrated sheer greed in his desire to own another bank besides Capital Bank Ltd and left no stone unturned through subterfuge and deceit with pure criminal intent to set up Sovereign Bank Ltd.”

I couldn’t agree more with the judge because Essien did not demonstrate any sense of responsibility and true fidelity as he greedily stole the whooping cowries to satisfy his parochial desires. I honestly do not shed any tear for the greedy ‘bastard’ as he marches morosely to jail.

Essien, therefore, becomes the first banking executive to serve a jail term following the massive banking sector clean-up in 2017 that led to the collapse of seven indigenous banks, including Capital Bank. I pray the likes of Capt. (rtd.) Prince Kofi Amoabeng, former CEO of defunct UT Bank, also answer for their roles in the banking mess.

I deliberately mentioned Kofi Amoabeng because he admitted publicly that he sat aloof and watched as high level non-performing loans contributed significantly towards the collapse of the bank. He further admitted that a number of staff who joined the financial institution were “plain thieves” who engaged in acts that compromised the bank’s financial health. (GNA, 7th November, 2020: High level of non-performing loans, thievery by some staff collapsed my bank.)

But the question that Mr. Amoabeng failed to answer was why he sat aloof and watched as plain thieves, as he called them, looted the bank’s coffers. He has to answer for his negligence, which emboldened the so-called thieves and contributed to the collapse of the bank. As the famous Akan proverb literally translates, ‘An elder who sits unconcerned as children use his knife to kill a python, is seen as also engaged in the act.’

It is, therefore, laughable to hear Kofi Amoabeng say though he ‘knew the baby was sick’ to the point that he had to step out for another person to step in as CEO to clean his mess, he “wasn’t expecting the baby to die” because the brand they had was having an impact on the national economy. So, did he expect the government to leave the bank at the mercy of ‘plain thieves’ and incompetent management, who would continue giving out high level non-performing loans?

I’m not a lawyer and cannot claim to be one. But even as a layman, I can tell that Kofi Amoabeng has a case to answer.  So why is the very competent Attorney-General (A-G), Godfred Dame, silent on the Kofi Amoabeng and UT Bank debacle? I do not want to believe it is negligence because Mr. Odame has done a great job so far in protecting the public purse and retrieving huge cowries. So, one would be a hypocrite to accuse him of doing nothing in that regard.

I, therefore, take this opportunity to add my voice to the few voices calling on the A-G to expedite action on the dockets of those who orchestrated the banking mess. The likes of Mr. Amoabeng should not be allowed to be walking free without answering for their acts of omissions and commissions in the banking fiasco.

As for the promise by President Ogwanfunu to return collapsed banks to their owners if he wins the December 2024 polls, it is only a ‘Kwaku Ananse’ tale. It is good Mr. Amoabeng has read between the lines and acknowledged the fact that such promises are not feasible and are only music to the ears.

But, I guess Ato Essien would have a different opinion as President Ogwanfunu’s success at the 2024 polls seems to be his only hope. Let’s wait and see what the pregnant future holds.

See you next week for another interesting konkonsa, Deo volente!