Ato Essien Hot Over GH¢165m Transfer

Ato Essien

The Founder and Chief Executive Officer of defunct Capital Bank was yesterday grilled on the propriety of some GH¢165 million that was taken from the GH¢620 million liquidity support given to the struggling bank in 2015 by the Bank of Ghana.

The prosecution, led by Evelyn Keelson, a Chief State Attorney had suggested that the monies were dishonestly taken away from the bank by Ato Essien who is on trial together with Tetteh Nettey and Fitzgerald Odonkor for their alleged involvement in the mismanagement of funds which led to the collapse of the bank.

Mrs. Keelson had put it to the accused person that going through the bank statement of Capital Africa Group, a company he owns, it was clear that Capital Africa Group just like MC Management Services and Britling Services were set up purposely to facilitate the dishonest transfer of monies from Capital Bank

The Chief State Attorney also put it to Mr. Essien that there were a number of Executive Committee meetings at Capital Bank where some members of management complained about his behaviour of getting huge sums of monies transferred from Capital Bank under the guise of placement.

“And in some of these meetings, management specifically complained about the GH¢130 million which you had taken from the bank under the guise of placement at All Times and you were asked to explain this conduct,” Mrs. Keelson further put it to the accused.

Mr. Essien, however, denied the allegation and stated that the monies taken from Capital Bank were done through commercial papers and there are documentations to confirm his claims.


Project Eagle

The Chief State Attorney further made reference to an audit done by the Receiver on the accounts of Capital Bank titled ‘Project Eagle’, which detailed the records of one Executive Committee meeting where one Emmanuel Nikoi wanted to find out the whereabouts of the GH¢130 million Ato Essien had taken from Capital Bank.

Ato Essien’s response, according to the minutes of the meeting, was that the actual use of the GH¢130 million could not be disclosed to management as that was a highly classified information and gave the assurance that it will be paid back to Capital Bank with interest.

The accused however, told the court that he does not recognise the ‘Project Eagle’ which he said was a work done by someone who needed to earn his wages and that accounted for the clear conflict of interest that was demonstrated by his counsel to the court, saying “Vish Ashiagbor and the authors of ‘Project Eagle’ acted as referees and linesmen.”


Board Approval

Mrs. Keelson also put it to the accused person that none of the dishonest transactions were approved by the board of Capital Bank, but Ato Essien wondered how somebody in their wildest imagination would allege that GH¢100 million from Bank of Ghana was taken from the accounts of Capital Bank without board approval.

She also put it to the accused that the GH¢130 million and GH¢35 million dishonestly taken from Capital Bank came from the liquidity support the bank received from Bank of Ghana and he succeeded in taking all these monies from Capital Bank dishonestly with the help of Fitzgerald Odonkor.

“No, my Lord, all the transactions were duly approved by the board and duly executed by the management. My Lord the approval of the transaction is in the discoveries,” Ato Essien responded.

The case has been adjourned to February 24 for continuation.


BY Gibril Abdul Razak