Sheer greed! – Judge fumes before Ato-Essien’s sentence

Justice Eric Kyei Baffour, the judge responsible for the sentencing of William Ato Essien, the founder of the now-defunct Capital Bank, has provided a rationale for his decision. He stated that Ato Essien, the convict, exhibited extreme greed and must face the consequences of his actions. In his ruling on October 12, the judge emphasized that Mr. Essien had a clear intention to embezzle substantial sums of money from the state through his actions. The judge was resolute in his position, asserting that nothing would change his mind regarding Mr. Essien’s case. Consequently, Justice Eric Kyei Baffour sentenced Ato Essien to 15 years of imprisonment with hard labor.

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“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.”

“Being in a position of trust, he was expected to have demonstrated a sense of responsibility and true fidelity. He had no cause, whatsoever, to steal such gargantuan sums of money,” the presiding judge said.

Ato Essien’s imprisonment came about due to his failure to fully reimburse the GH¢90 million owed to the state, despite agreeing to do so. He initially made a GH¢30 million payment in December 2022 and was expected to pay the first installment of the remaining GH¢60 million by April 28, 2023. However, he only managed to pay GH¢5 million. In May, he was given until July 4 to liquidate his assets and pay the state GH¢55 million. When this deadline passed without any payments, the state submitted a request to the court, seeking a custodial sentence in accordance with the agreed terms.

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Upon a request by the convict’s lawyer, Justice Eric Kyei Baffour initially postponed the hearing of the application to impose a custodial sentence. However, when his patience wore thin, he allowed the state to proceed with the application. After hearing the application, the judge sentenced Ato Essien to 15 years in prison. Notably, Essien has become the first banking executive to serve a prison term as a result of the extensive banking sector clean-up in 2017, which led to the collapse of seven indigenous banks, including Capital Bank.


William Ato Essien, Rev. Fitzgerald Odonkor and Tetteh Nettey, a former Managing Director of MC Management Service owned by Mr. Essien were charged with 23 counts of conspiracy, stealing from the ¢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 ¢620 million BoG liquidity support was transferred while others were carried in jute bags to Ato Essien.

Meanwhile, a private legal practitioner, Kweku Paintsil has said Ato Essien’s jailing is not surprising.

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Mr Paintsil noted that Mr Essien’s jail term has nothing to do with his capability to pay the judgement sum.

However, it is the natural consequence of his noncompliance with the terms agreed with the court.

“The conviction that came as a result of his noncompliance or failure to pay the money ordered by the court is not surprising. It is the natural consequences of his noncompliance,” he told Blessed Sogah on Thursday, October 12, 2023.

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