Ato Essien trial: Kofi Bentil praises prosecution over Section 35 repayment deal

Kofi Bentil IMANI12131312133456 Vice President of IMANI Africa, Kofi Bentil

Sun, 4 Dec 2022 Source: www.ghanaweb.com

Senior Vice President of IMANI Africa, Kofi Bentil, has lauded the Attorney General’s Department for seeking the state’s interest in the ongoing trial of the founder of defunct Capital Bank, William Ato Essien.

“I just want to say for whatever it’s worth to the public that this is one of the cases where I think our state officials are doing a good job.

“Over ten witnesses were called, the details we are going through; you can’t just get up and then throw somebody in jail because you believe he has done this or that,” he noted while contributing on Joynewsfile.

State prosecutors trying Ato Essien and others for allegedly stealing depositors' funds had struck an agreement that will see the accused refund some GHC90 million as restitution to the state under Section 35 of the Courts Act.

However the presiding judge, Justice Kyei Baffour rejected the agreement noting that the amount agreed on comes off as a short change to the state.

But according to Kofi Bentil, the prosecution has so far proven to be working in the interest of the state and thus urged the public to keep faith in the Attorney General’s office.

“Sometimes you have to trust the people who you have elected to do the job. In this matter really, I will say that trust what the AG’s department is doing,” he stated.

“I doubt if those criticizing the AG would have done better if they were in the same position in this matter,” Kofi Bentil added.

Judgement in the trial of Ato Essien and two others who have been charged for allegedly stealing depositors' funds was scheduled to be delivered by the Accra High Court on Thursday, December 1, 2022.

Before the judge could proceed, lawyers for the accused and the prosecution informed the court that they had reached a GH¢90 million repayment agreement plan as restitution to the state.

The agreement, according to the accused, was pursuant to Section 35 of the Courts Act, 1993 (Act 459), which allows an accused person to plead guilty and pay restitution to the state in cases in which there has been a financial loss to the state.

However, the judge, in ruling on the said agreement flatly rejected the plan which would have seen Mr. Essien pay the said amount in various instalments within the year.

Notwithstanding that the accused person has already made a payment of GH¢30 out of the total amount due to the state, the judge refused the agreement, according to a report by Starrfm.com.gh sighted by GhanaWeb.

According to the report, the court, in its own description, said the agreement as it were has the potential to make crime ''attractive'' considering the value of the amount in question in 2015 and today.

The presiding judge, Justice Eric Kyei Baffour further observed that Section 35 cannot actually be activated within the context as the monies involved do not belong to the state but rather to depositors and shareholders of the defunct Capital Bank.

Justice Kyei Baffour thus adjourned the case to December 13, 2022, asking that the prosecution and the accused come back with a better deal and a superior argument for their agreement to be admitted under Section 35 of Act 459.


Ato Essien is facing trial with the Managing Director (MD) of the defunct bank, Fitzgerald Odonkor, and the MD of MC Management Services, a company said to be owned by Essien, Tettey Nettey.

The prosecution has accused the three persons of engaging in various illegal acts that led to the dissipation of a chunk of the GH¢620 million in liquidity support given to the Capital Bank by the BoG between June 2015 and November 2016.

The accused persons have pleaded not guilty to various counts of theft, abetment to stealing, conspiracy to steal, and money laundering.

They maintained their innocence all throughout the trial, with Ato Essien maintaining at all material moments that he had board approval for all the actions he took.


Source: www.ghanaweb.com