William Ato Essien, the founder of the now-defunct Capital Bank, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison by an Accra High Court.
The court’s decision followed Mr. Essien’s conviction on charges of embezzling over GH¢90 million of the Bank of Ghana’s liquidity support meant for the troubled financial institution.
Mr. Essien had initially agreed to repay the embezzled funds after paying ¢30 million upfront in December 2022. He was given a deadline until April 28, 2023, to pay an additional ¢20 million as the first installment of the ¢60 million outstanding amount.
However, he failed to meet this deadline, managing to pay only ¢5 million. Despite an extended deadline until July 4, he was unable to liquidate his assets and fulfill his financial obligations to the state.
The prosecution’s case centered around allegations that Essien, along with Rev. Fitzgerald Odonkor and Tetteh Nettey, former Managing Director of MC Management Service, conspired to steal from the ¢620 million liquidity support provided by the Bank of Ghana to help Capital Bank service its debts.
The accused individuals allegedly orchestrated the transfer of funds from the Bank of Ghana to various Capital Bank accounts and, in some instances, physically received portions of the funds in jute bags. The court found Mr. Essien guilty on 23 counts related to conspiracy and theft in connection with the misappropriation of these funds.
The case has attracted significant attention due to its implications for financial accountability and the need for stringent measures against white-collar crimes in the banking sector.
The court’s decision serves as a reminder of the consequences individuals face when misusing public funds and breaching the trust placed in them by financial institutions and the state.
The sentencing of Ato Essien marks a significant milestone in the fight against corruption and financial misconduct, sending a clear message that those engaging in fraudulent activities will be held accountable under the law.
As Ghana continues to strengthen its legal framework and institutions to combat financial crimes, this case stands as a testament to the country’s commitment to upholding the rule of law and ensuring justice prevails.
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