The Attorney General’s Department has rejected a proposal by the founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO)of defunct Capital Bank, Ato Essien, to refund some GH¢27 million to the state under Section 35 of the Courts Act.
Although the details of the proposal have not been made available, Marina Appiah Opare, a Chief State Attorney, told an Accra High Court yesterday that the first set of proposals by Mr. Essien was totally unacceptable to the prosecution.
She said they had subsequently received a second proposal which they had responded to, and his lawyers were yet to receive it.
The embattled businessman, who is on trial with three others for allegedly stealing various sums of money from his collapsed bank, wants to come under Sections 35 of the Courts Act to refund part of the money in order to have charges preferred against him dropped.
He has so far refunded about GH¢1.4 million to the state and is said to be negotiating a deal with the Attorney General (AG) to have some of his charges dropped against him.
As part of the negotiations, he has also given out 19 newly cleared vehicles to the state.
But it appears his proposal to pay and how to refund the stolen amount falls below the expectation of the AG, who has rejected the first proposal for the refund.
Appearing before the trial court yesterday, Mrs. Appiah Opare told the court that Mr. Essien’s proposal relates to four out of the 26 counts levelled against him and the others.
She said if the prosecution and the accused person were unable to reach an agreement by the next date, the trial should begin as the negotiations continue, the court heard and asked for an adjournment, which was supported by Baffuor Gyewu Bonsu, who held brief for Thaddeus Sory, counsel for Mr. Essien.
The presiding judge, Justice Eric Kyei Baffuor, a Court of Appeal judge sitting with additional responsibility as a High Court judge, adjourned the matter to July 9, 2020, saying notwithstanding any outcome of the negotiations, the trial will proceed on that day.
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 to steal, 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¢675 million BoG liquidity support was transferred to while others were carried in jute bags to Mr. Essien as payment for business promotion.
The charges levelled against the accused persons indicated that Mr. Essien and Mr. Nettey, between October and November 2015, with the help of Mr. Odonkor, stole GH¢100 million belonging to the bank.
Mr. Essien and Mr. Nettey are alleged to have also stolen between the same period GH¢30 million from the bank.
According to the charge sheet, the two, again in January 2016, stole and laundered an amount of GH¢35 million from the bank.
The charges against Mr. Essien and Mr. Nettey also state that the two, in June 2015, stole another GH¢2 million from the defunct bank orchestrated by Mr. Odonkor.
Also, Mr. Essien and Mr. Nettey are said to have stolen another GH¢5 million from the bank in September 2015, engineered by Mr. Odonkor, as well as another theft of GH¢12 million by Mr. Essien.
Ms. Quartey-Papafio and Mr. Essien were accused of conspiring to steal and stealing GH¢70 million from the bank between June and August 2017.
Other moneys allegedly stolen by the accused person included GH¢8.5 million in October 2016 belonging to the bank.
Mr. Essien and Mr. Nettey are facing two counts of conspiracy to steal while Ms. Quartey-Papafio is facing three counts of conspiracy to steal, stealing and money laundering.
Mr. Essien and Mr. Nettey are facing other four counts of stealing while Mr. Essien alone is facing another six counts of stealing.
Furthermore, Mr. Essien and Mr. Nettey are facing two counts of money laundering while Mr. Essien is facing another five counts of money laundering.
BY Gibril Abdul Razak