Private legal practitioner Bobby Banson has described as a sad spectacle the 15-year jail term imposed on the Chief Executive Officer of the defunct Capital Bank, William Ato Essien.
While acknowledging that the law was enforced accordingly, the author expressed disappointment in the fact that the young businessman who was once celebrated as a model of success would end in this manner.
At the peak of his sterling career, Mr. Essien was widely covered in the media having sold a rag to riches story, and was a guest speaker at several events to motivate young people.
Speaking on Newsfile on Saturday, October 14, the private legal practitioner said there are vital lessons in the episode for everyone.
According to him, the case proves that the justice system is no respecter of persons.
“…for him to be sentenced to 15 years in prison is unfortunate. For someone who has been celebrated as a young Ghanaian at that time when he started as a Microfinance and developed it and got the license to become a bank, it is sad that this will be the end of his business empire. But that is where we are and it is a lesson for all of us and a testament that justice is no respecter of persons,” he said.
Mr Ato Essien was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment with hard labour by Justice Eric Kyei Baffour.
Ato Essien’s imprisonment comes following his inability to pay fully the GH¢90m amount back to the State after agreeing to do so.
He earlier paid GH¢30 million upfront in December 2022 and was required to pay GH¢20 million as the first instalment of the GH¢60 million outstanding amount by April 28, 2023.
But he was only able to pay ¢5 million. In May, he was given until July 4, to liquidate his assets and pay the state GH¢55 million. This deadline elapsed without any payments made.
The state then submitted a request to the court, seeking a custodial sentence in line with the agreed terms.
Justice Eric Kyei Baffour upon a request by the convict’s lawyer deferred the hearing of the application to impose a custodial sentence.
William Ato Essien, Rev. Fitzgerald Odonkor and Tetteh Nettey, a former Managing Director of MC Management Services owned by Mr. Essien were charged with 23 counts of conspiracy, stealing from the GH¢620 million liquidity support given to the bank by the Bank of Ghana (BoG), to enable it to service its maturing debt.
The accused persons, according to the prosecution, opened various bank accounts with Capital Bank through which the GH¢620 million BoG liquidity support was transferred while others were carried in jute bags to Ato Essien.