The former Chief Executive Officer of the now-defunct Capital Bank, Ato Essien, has been handed a 15-year prison sentence with hard labour. This verdict comes on the back of his inability to meet a GH¢90 million debt repayment to the state, despite numerous opportunities granted to him.
In May 2023, the court provided Essien with a two-month grace period to satisfy at least the initial GH¢20 million installment of his GH¢60 million debt obligation. But, he failed to comply with this court directive.
Ato Essien was convicted in December 2022 on his own plea after striking a deal with the state under section 35 of the Courts Act to avoid a custodial sentence.
He has, however, been having a hard time fulfilling a GH¢90 million debt obligation imposed on him by the court in replacement of the custodial sentence.
According to the terms of this agreement, Mr. Essien was tasked with settling the GH¢90 million debt by the close of 2023. He initiated this payment by disbursing GH¢30 million in December 2022, with the remaining amount to be paid in three equal installments throughout 2023.
The first installment was due by the end of April 2023, and a failure to comply with this payment schedule posed the risk of imprisonment. By the deadline, Mr. Essien had only managed to remit GH¢6 million out of the GH¢20 million expected.
In response, the state submitted an application to the court, requesting the imposition of a custodial sentence as stipulated in the agreement in cases of payment plan breaches. However, Justice Eric Kyei Baffour, the presiding judge, deferred the hearing of the custodial sentence application, following a request from Mr. Essien’s legal team.
The defense contended that agreements had been reached with a company to liquidate certain assets owned by Mr. Essien to settle the debt. Nevertheless, it was revealed that only an additional GH¢2 million had been paid, bringing the total for the first installment to GH¢8 million, leaving a balance of GH¢12 million.