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Capital Bank Case: Ato Essien, others granted GHC200m bail

All four accused persons in the case of the Republic versus William Ato Essien and three others have pleaded not guilty to all 26 counts of Charges leveled against them by the State.

The four accused persons appeared before the Commercial High Court presided over by Justice Eric Kyei Baffour.

Charges

A careful analysis of the charge sheet of the State indicates that the four (4) accused persons have been charged with a total of twenty-six (26) Counts.

The charges are Conspiracy to Steal contrary to section 23 (1) and 124 (1) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29), Abetment of crime namely stealing contrary to section 20 (1) an 124 (1) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29), Stealing contrary to section 23 (1) and 124 (1) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29), and Money Laundering contrary to section 1 (1) (a) of the Anti – Money Laundering Act, 2008 (Act749).

In all William Ato Essien is charged with eight (8) Counts of Stealing contrary to section 23 (1) and 124 (1) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29), eight (8) Counts of Money Laundering contrary to section 1 (1) (a) of the Anti – Money Laundering Act, 2008 (Act749) and three (3) counts Conspiracy to Steal contrary to section 23 (1) and 124 (1) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29), making it a total of 19 counts that are applicable to him.

Mr. Tetteh Nettey according to the charge sheet faces two (2) Counts of Stealing contrary to section 23 (1) and 124 (1) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29), two (2) Counts of Money Laundering contrary to section 1 (1) (a) of the Anti – Money Laundering Act, 2008 (Act749) and two (2) counts Conspiracy to Steal contrary to section 23 (1) and 124 (1) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29), making his a total of 6 counts.

Fitzgerald Odonkor on the other is charged with seven (7) Counts of Abetment of crime namely stealing contrary to section 20 (1) an 124 (1) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29).

The fourth accused person, Kate Quartey-Papafio, has a case to answer on one (1) Count each of 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 (Act749) and Conspiracy to Steal contrary to section 23 (1) and 124 (1) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29), making hers a total of three (3) Counts. The State estimates that the accused persons have misappropriated about two hundred and sixty two million, five hundred thousand Ghana Cedis (262,500,000.00).

In Court

After all the lawyers introduced themselves to the Court, the Court clerk read all twenty-six (26) Counts and particulars of offence to the accused persons and took their plea. The accused persons pleaded not guilty to all 26 counts. The Attorney General, Gloria Akuffo was then invited to read the brief facts of the case.

Defence lawyers subsequently applied for bail for their clients indicating that the facts as read by the Prosecution do not constitute evidence before this Court and to that end, having pleaded not guilty, they are entitled to bail pending their trial. The State did not oppose the bail application. The Attorney General, however, asked that adequate conditions are set to the bail. Amongst others, she asked that they deposit their passports to the registry, as well as provide sureties to the bail.

Justice Kyei Baffour’s Court in its ruling said with accused persons having pleaded not guilty, their constitutional rights come to the fore.

“I exercise my Judicial discretion as follows, 1,2,3 accused persons are admitted to bail each in the sum of 200 million Ghana Cedis, while the 4th accused is admitted to bail of 75 million Ghana cedis. Each accused person is to provide four sureties. Each accused person is to deposit their passports to the registrar of the High Court” Justice Kyei Baffour ruled.

The Court further made orders for the Prosecution to furnish each of the accused person with the charges sheet, facts of the case, the investigative or further caution statements taken, charge statements of each accused person, witness statements made by persons to the Police or investigative bodies in the cause of investigations, any documents that is of value to the case, any other evidence, and any exculpatory evidence in the possession of the Prosecution. These orders the Court says are to be complied with by the 13th of November 2019. The Court proceeded to adjourn sitting to the 20th of November 2019 for case management conference.

Representations

The State was represented by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Gloria Afua Akuffo, the Director of Public Prosecution, Yvonne Atakora Obuabisa, Chief State Attorneys Evelyn Kelsson, and Marina Appiah Opare.

Baffour Bonsu Ashia appeared for the first and Second accused persons holding the brief of Thaddeus Sory. Lawyer Justin Amenuvor and three others represented the third accused person, Fitzgerald Odonkor. Lawyer Dominic Aryine with K. T. Hammond, and Godwin Tamakloe for the fourth Accused person, Kate Quartey-Papafio.

The Facts

The facts as read in court indicated that “William Ato Essien, was the majority shareholder of Capital Bank Limited” . The 2nd accused person, “Tetteh Nettey, was the Managing Director of MC Management Services, a company established by the 1st accused person purposely for the Promotion of the incorporation of Sovereign Bank, another brainchild of the 1st accused person”. The 3rd accused person “Fitzgerald Odonkor the facts stated, was the Managing Director of Capital Bank from June 2015 to August 2017” and the 4th accused person, “Kate Quartey-Papafio is a businesswoman and. Chief Executive Officer of Reroy Cables Company Limited” .

It further stated that “between June 2015 and November 2016, pursuant to an application by Capital Bank, the Bank of Ghana (BOG) provided a total sum of GHS 620 million as liquidity support to Capital Bank to enable it to meet its capital adequacy ratio and to enable it service its maturing debt obligations”.

“In October 2015, the 1st accused person, aided by the 3rd accused person, caused a transfer of a sum of GHS120 million of the liquidity support amount to All-Time Capital Limited (All-Time), an investment management and advisory firm. At the instance of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd accused persons, GHS100 million of the GHc 120 million which had been transferred to All Time, was further transferred to MC Management Services while GHc 20 million of the amount of GHc 120 million was transferred to Pronto Construction and Supplies Limited (Pronto Construction).

The sum of GHS100 million which was transferred to MC Management Services was subsequently represented by the 2nd accused person to BOG as initial Capital of Sovereign Bank while the GHS 20million that was transferred to Pronto Construction was used by the Managing Director of Pronto Construction, ostensibly to purchase shares in Capital Bank.

Again, at the instance of the 1st and 3rd accused persons, GHS65million out of the BOG liquidity support of GHS620 million was transferred to Nordea Capital Limited described as an investment bank. Of the amount of GHS65 million, the 1 st accused person, aided by the 3rd accused person, caused GHS30million to be
transferred to MC Management Services which was represented to BOG as additional initial capital of Sovereign Bank by the 2nd accused person. With the aid of the 3rd accused person, the remaining GHc 35million of the GHS65 million was paid into a Fidelity Bank account of Brietling Services, a Company also established by the 1st accused person. At the request of the 1st accused person, the amount of GHS35 million which was transferred into the account of Brietling Services was subsequently transferred to Capital Africa
Group, a company owned by the 1st accused person.

The total amount of GHS130 million which was represented as initial capital of Sovereign Bank was eventually channeled by the 1st and 2nd accused persons into Capital Africa Group, the 1st accused person’s company, less bank charges. The monies transferred into Capital Africa Group was eventually dissipated by the 1st and 2nd accused persons.

Between June 2015 and October 2016, the 1 st accused person, with the support of the 3rd accused person, appropriated a total of GHS27.5million of the liquidity
the support which was Conveyed in jute bags to the 1st accused person and
purportedly used as payment for business promotion.

In June 2017, in furtherance of the conversion of portions of the GHS620 million liquidity support, the 1st accused person caused a sum of GHS100 million to be
paid into a Capital Bank account held by the Managing Director of the following three (3) companies; Maripoma Enterprise Limited, Hardwick Limited and Volta
Impex Enterprise Limited opened purposely to receive the amount. The GHS100 million was to be used by the Managing Director of the three companies ostensibly as payment for 30% shares in Capital Bank. As a cover-up of the conversion, the 1st accused person prevailed on the Managing Director of the companies to submit copies of Government Payment Certificates of the three (3) companies valued at GHS135million to be discounted to GHS105 million by Capital Bank, to be used as collateral for the purported loan of GHS100 million.

The 1st accused person then caused GHS70 million out of the GHS100 million that had been previously paid into the Managing Director’s account at Capital Bank, to be transferred to the 4th accused person’s account with Calbank
Limited.

The 1st and 4th accused persons subsequently caused the amount of GHS70 million in the Calbank account of the 4th accused person to be further transferred into a personal account of the 4th accused person purposely opened at Capital
Bank to receive the amount.

Sometime in 2017 after Capital Bank had gone into receivership, the 4th accused person even though fully aware that Capital bank had gone into liquidation, attempted to withdraw the whole amount of GHS70 million which had been lodged in her personal account with Capital Bank but was however prevented from doing so by the receivers.

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