Capital Bank Collapse: Ato Essien files motion for stay of proceedings

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.

This was after counsel for Mr Essien notified the court that the team had filed a motion for stay of proceedings to be moved on July 29.

It is unclear why the team filed for a stay, but the accused persons were expected to open their defence on Thursday, 22 July 2021.

On April 29, the state prosecution closed its case after calling 17 witnesses, leaving the window for the defence team to open its defence but they refused to do so.

They filed a submission of no case.

This is a term in British Criminal law whereby a defendant seeks acquittal without presenting a defence.

A no-case submission is made when the defence considers that the prosecution case does not support a finding of guilt and that the court should dismiss the charge without the defence having to present a case.

On July 8, the trial judge Justice Eric Kyei Baffour of the Court of Appeal, dismissed the submission of no case application.

The judge held that a prima facie case had been established against the three men standing trial for their various roles in the collapse of the bank.

They also filed an appeal of the judge’s ruling on submission of no 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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