Former Chief Executive Officer of the defunct Capital Bank, Ato Essien, has been sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment with hard labor. This judgment was delivered due to his failure to fully satisfy an agreed payment of GH¢90 million to the state, despite receiving multiple opportunities to do so since December 2022.
Ato Essien had previously pleaded guilty to 16 counts of stealing, money laundering, and conspiracy to steal, acknowledging his role in the collapse of Capital Bank. In an effort to resolve his legal situation, he entered a plea bargain with the state under section 35(7) of the courts ACT 459. According to the terms of the agreement, Mr. Essien initially paid GH¢30 million on December 13, with the understanding that he would pay the remaining GH¢60 million in three equal installments in 2023: GH¢20 million by April 28, another GH¢20 million by August 31, and the final GH¢20 million by December 15, 2023.
An essential condition of this agreement was that the court reserved the right to impose a custodial sentence if he missed any of the payment deadlines. Unfortunately, by April 28, Mr. Essien had not fully paid the GH¢20 million due. The state subsequently filed an application on May 2, 2023, seeking to impose a custodial sentence on Ato Essien. However, the application was not immediately heard, as the presiding judge, Justice Eric Kyei Baffour, granted him a grace period of about six months to rectify the situation.
Between January and October 12 of the same year, Ato Essien managed to pay only GH¢7 million in addition to the GH¢30 million he had previously contributed. With GH¢53 million of the agreed sum still outstanding, the judge, having exhausted his patience, allowed the state to proceed with the application.
Upon hearing the application, the judge ultimately sentenced Ato Essien to 15 years in prison.
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