The Founder of the defunct Capital Bank, William Ato Essien, has been given a grace period of up to July 4, this year by the Accra High Court to pay a GH¢55 million restitution to the state.
He risk possibly going to prison if he fails to pay the restitution by the said date.tre
Essien, a convict, is under obligation to pay a GH¢60 million restitution to the state in three instaments of GH¢20million, but missed the first installment deadline on April 28, this year and rather paid GH5¢ million on May 10.
At yesterday’s hearing, the court, presided over by Justice Eric Kyei Baffour, decided to show mercy to Essien by adjourning the case to July 4 instead of hearing an application by the Attorney-General (A-G) seeking the imprisonment of the convict for his failure to meet the first installment deadline on April 28.
Justice Kyei Baffour, a Justice of the Court of Appeal, sitting as a High Court judge, decided to give Essien a grace period after the convict, in his affidavit to the A-G’s application, deposed that he was expecting some money by the end of June to enable him pay the restitution.
However, Justice Kyei Baffour warned Essien that if he failed to pay the money by the next adjourned date, the court would not be inclined to be merciful again but would rather rule on the application by the A-G which is urging the court to imprison the convict.
“If we come back on July 4th and you have not paid the money, I would allow the Republic to move the application, then we all know that I had been as fair as possible,” Justice Kyei Baffour, said.
Selling of assets
In his affidavit in opposition to the A-G’s application, Essien deposed that his company – Essien Swiss International Holdings, had agreed to sell some of its assets to another company with the next tranche of the money said to be paid by the buying company expected by the end of June.
According to Essien, he was expecting about $300,000 from that particular payment.
A Deputy A-G, Alfred Tuah–Yeboah, reminded the court that $300,000 amounted to about GH¢3.6 million, which when added to the GH¢5million already paid by the convict, would not be enough to offset the GH¢55 million owed by Essien.
Counsel for Essien, Baffour Gyewu Bonsu Ashia, who held brief for Thaddeus Sory, assured the court that apart from the sale of the assets, his client was taking other steps to get the money to pay the restitution.
In his ruling, Justice Kyei Baffour held that although he was ready to allow the prosecution to move the application and subsequently deliver his ruling on it, he decided to give the applicant a grace period due to his (Essien’s) deposition that he was expecting some money by June.
According to the presiding judge, whether or not the depositions made by Essien were genuine would be known by the next adjourned date, adding, “if indeed the depositions in the affidavits have been made bonafide , time will vindicate that”.
On December 13, last year, Essien pleaded guilty to 16 counts of stealing and money laundering and was accordingly convicted of stealing and dissipating over GH¢90 million of liquidity support given to the Capital Bank by the Bank of Ghana (BoG).
However, the convict avoided a custodial sentence after the court accepted an agreement between him and the Attorney-General (A-G) for him (Essien) to pay the GH¢90 million as restitution to the state.
The agreement was pursuant to Section 35 of the Courts Act, 1993 (Act 459), which allows accused persons standing trial for causing financial loss to the state to pay the money and possibly avoid a custodial sentence.
Essien paid GH¢30 million of the amount and per the agreement as adopted by the court, was ordered to pay the remaining GH¢60 million in three installments with the first instalment on or before April 28, 2023, the second on or before August 31, 2023, and the last instalment on or before December 15, 2023.
In conformity with Section 35(7) of Act 459, Justice Kyei Baffour ruled that Essien would be imprisoned if he missed any of the payment schedules.
The convict missed the April 28, deadline, a situation that necessitated the A-G to file a motion urging the court to jail him.
On May 11, this year, Justice Kyei Baffour, dismissed an application by Essien asking the court to allow him to renegotiate the terms of the GH¢60 million restitution to the state, as well as for the court to suspend any action that could result in his imprisonment.
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