Capital bank collapse: Ato Essien fails to halt proceedings

The Accra High Court has tossed out an application by the founder of defunct Capital Bank, William Ato Essien, which sought to halt proceedings pending an appeal.

Mr Essien had filed a review application of the court’s ruling on their submission of no case, which was dismissed by the trial judge.

Justice Eric Kyei-Baffour had dismissed their submission of no case application, insisting that a prima facie had been established against Ato Essien and two others.

Not happy, the trio filed for review at the Court of Appeal to challenge the verdict demanding they open their defence,

Subsequently, they filed for a stay of proceedings at the Accra High Court as well.

The stay of proceedings means the Accra High Court will have to wait for the determination of the review application before continuing with the substantive matter.

But the trial judge simply said ‘No’ to their request.

Justice Kyei Baffour held that the application for stay of proceedings did not demonstrate exceptional circumstance for the court to halt the trial.

“Reading the application together with the affidavit and examining the whole processes, the court can only state that the chance of success of the applicant at the appellate court is very bleak.

“I find no justification or compelling reason to grant this application. Same is declined,” the judge said in a ruling on Thursday, July 29, 2021.

Arguments by parties

Counsel for Mr Essien, Baffour Gyawu Ashia Bonsu, had argued that exceptional circumstances exist in his client’s application because there was a viable chance of success.

“The grounds of appeal raises very serious and fundamental issues to be determined by the appeal court,” he insisted.

But a Chief State Attorney Marina Appiah Opare opposed the application and urged the court to dismiss it.

According to the Chief State Attorney the appeal application had no chance of success and applicant also failed to demonstrate a grant of the request.

She believes the application will delay the trial if granted as it would affect the other accused person in the case.

Background

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.

Charges

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.

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