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Business News of Friday, 25 February 2022


Capital Bank case: I legitimately earned GH¢27.5 million – Ato Essien tells Court

Ato Essien is former CEO of defunct Capital Bank Limited Ato Essien is former CEO of defunct Capital Bank Limited

Bank of Ghana undertakes clean-up exercise in 2017

Capital Bank granted GH¢620 million in liquidity support

Ato Essien, two others on trial for alleged involvement in Capital Bank malfeasance

Former Chief Executive Officer of defunct Capital Bank Limited, William Ato Essien has denied allegations of embezzling GH¢200 million from a liquidity support fund granted by the Bank of Ghana.

The central bank prior to the banking sector clean-up exercise granted Capital Bank GH¢620 million as part of liquidity support to keep the bank afloat.

But Ato Essien has denied making any personal benefits from the liquidity support as he told the Chief State Attorney Evelyn Keelson, during cross-examination, he was not involved in the day-to-day operations of the bank, not a management member and neither a signatory of the Capital Bank.

“I have no access to the treasury of the Bank,” he told the State Attorney. It is factually incorrect because I am standing trial for GH¢130 million and GH¢27.5 million cedis,” he added.

Essien during the cross-examination explained that from the total of GH¢157.5 million, he legitimately earned GH¢27.5 million as what he described as “Finder’s fee.”

The former Capital Bank CEO further said he earned the GH¢27.5 million legitimately and has the right to use the funds as he pleased adding that monies he allegedly used for his personal gains were used to set up Sovereign Bank and a water producing company known as Ocean Spring.

In a witness statement before the Court, Ato Essien said, “the Board of the defunct Capital Bank duly approved the payment of GH¢27.5million cedis as his Finder’s Fee”

Here is a transcript of Ato Essien’s cross examination

Question: Do you have any appointment letter from the Bank to support the claim that you were the Transaction Officer?

Answer: “An oral agreement is as good as a written agreement. I have been looking for money for the Bank at the time I stepped down as the Chief Executive Officer. The Bank had never refused the money I found for it. I was contracted to find money and have done that since the year 2012.”

Question: “I am putting it to you that the GH¢27.5 million was used under the guise of paying Bank of Ghana officials who facilitated the disbursement of the GH¢620miilion.”

Answer: “No, my Lord. I was paid my finders commission, and, in that respect, approvals were duly given by the Board in recognition of the successful achievement of the receipt of the GH¢620million. This transaction was not the first time I had found money from a government institution for the Bank.”

Question: The first tranche of liquidity support was requested by Rev Fitzgerald Odonkor, the then Managing Director and Daniel Diapah, a manager.

Answer: It is factually inaccurate.

Question: Your response clearly shows that you did not play any role in the acquisition of the liquidity support.

Answer: “That is not correct. I acted as the Transaction Advisor.

Questions: “The contradictory answers you have given on record clearly shows that you were not the transaction adviser for the liquidity support.”

Answer: “We requested for GH¢300 million from Bank of Ghana, but we were given GH¢150 million. With the second tranche, we requested for GH¢450 million, but we were given GH¢300 million and in the third tranche, we requested for GH¢450 million, but we were given GH¢170 million.”

Meanwhile, a High Court Judge, presided by Justice Eric Kyei Baffour has adjourned the case to March 3, 2022.

This decision is to enable Ato Essien to call his defence witness who is the person of Dr Isaac Nyame.

Ato Essien and two others are currently standing trial over their dealings in a GH¢620 million offered to Capital Bank by the Bank of Ghana as liquidity support.