Capital Bank collapse: Court sets July 8 to rule on Ato Essien, 3 others

An Accra High Court has fixed July 8, 2021, to rule on a submission of no case application filed by lawyers of William Ato Essien and three others.

Mr Essien, together with Tetteh Nettey, Fitzgerald Odonkor and Kate Quartey-Papafio, have been slapped with 26 charges for their roles leading to the collapse of Capital Bank.

The accused persons, who all served as executives of the bank, have pleaded not guilty to charges including stealing and are currently on bail.

The accused persons who were expected to open their case after state prosecution closed its case with 17 witnesses on April 29 refused to do so.

They rather chose to file a submission of no case. This is a term in British Criminal law whereby a defendant (Ato Essien and others) 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.

At the last adjourned date, the court fixed May 25 for the accused persons to file their written submission of no case, but only two parties could file  – Fitzgerald and Kate Papafio.

Counsel for the two others pleaded with the court to grant an extension. The trial judge Justice Eric Kyei-Baffour granted their plea.

“I have graciously granted the extension of time for counsel for the second accused to file the written submissions of no case to answer by June 15. The Republic is to file a response to all the submission by June 18.

“The court has adjourned to July 8 to rule on the submission of no case to answer,” the trial judge directed.

Background

Capital Bank was one of the first banks that collapsed after a massive clean-up of financial institutions by the 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, 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.

Mr 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.

Fitzgerald Odonkor, on the other hand, is charged with seven counts of abetment of crime, namely stealing.

The fourth accused person, Kate Quartey-Papafio, has a case to answer on one count each of stealing, money laundering and conspiracy to steal, making hers a total of three counts.

The state estimates that the accused persons have misappropriated GHC 262,500,000.00.

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