The Accra High Court was compelled to adjourn the case in which William Ato Essien and two others are standing trial for stealing depositors’ funds leading to the collapse of Capital Bank.
The adjournment follows a letter of Mr Essien’s ill health, thus his inability to appear before court on Thursday, November 25.
“I have been shown a letter purported to have emanated from one Dr Rex Kwame Bonsu of Korle-bu Teaching Hospital. In the said letter, it is claimed that the witness before the court who is the first accused in the case has been diagnosed of obstructive sleep disorder (Apnea).
“The letter also says that the blood pressure of the 1st Accused (Ato Essien) is also fluctuating,” the trial judge Justice Kyei Baffour said when the case was called.
Mr. Essien was expected to continue his examination-in-chief after opening his defence on November 4, 2021, in the trial in which he and two others have been slapped with 23 charges.
Although the trial judge was sympathetic with the accused, he said that was not enough grounds to absent himself.
“Having opened his (Ato Essien) defence in respect of the charges against him which provides for anxious moments, these symptoms are natural products and I don’t see it as a good basis for the 1st accused being absent from court,” he stressed.
Obstructive sleep disorder is said to be the most common sleep-related breathing disorder. It causes you to repeatedly stop and start breathing while you sleep.
This type of apnea occurs when your throat muscles intermittently relax and block your airway during sleep. A noticeable sign of obstructive sleep apnea is snoring.
The court also ordered the accused persons to file their witness statements as well as all other statements they intend to rely on in the course of the trial before December 7, 2021.
The case has been adjourned to December 9, 2021.
Capital Bank was one of the first banks that collapsed after a massive clean-up of financial institutions by the Bank of Ghana (BoG) starting in 2017.
On August 14, 2017, its licence and UT Bank were revoked by the BoG after the BoG had declared them insolvent.
The BoG allowed the state-owned bank, the GCB Bank, to acquire the two banks to protect depositors’ funds and enable them to stay afloat.
The hurricane that swept through the banking sector due to the collapse of the two banks heightened in August 2018 when the central bank collapsed five other indigenous banks and merged them into one entity — Consolidated Bank, Ghana.
The accused have been slapped with stealing contrary to section 23 (1) and 124 (1) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29), Money Laundering contrary to section 1 (1) (a) of the Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2008 (Act 749) and conspiracy to stealing contrary to section 23 (1) and 124 (1) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29).
In all, the founder of the defunct bank William Ato Essien is charged with eight counts of stealing, eight counts of money laundering and three counts of conspiracy to stealing, making it a total of 19 counts.
The Managing Director of MC Management Services, Tetteh Nettey, faces two counts of stealing, two counts of money laundering and two counts of conspiracy to steal, making his a total of 6 counts.
On the other hand, the Managing Director of the bank Fitzgerald Odonkor, is charged with seven counts of abetment of crime, namely stealing.
The state estimates that the accused persons have misappropriated GHC 262,500,000.00.