Capital Bank: GHC27.5m out of BoG liquidity support was my ‘finder’s fee’ – Ato Essien to court
The founder of the defunct Capital Bank, William Ato Essien has mounted a strong justification to an amount of GHc27.5M he received as a commission form the GHc620 Liquidity Support given to Capital Bank by the Bank of Ghana (BoG).
Mr Essien (A1), Tetteh Nettey (2rd) and Fitzgerald Odonkor (3rd) have pleaded not guilty to a combined 23 charges including stealing and money laundering and have been granted bail.
They have been accused of misappropriating some GHc130M of the GHc650M given to the bank while Ato Essien is also defending the GHc27.5M he received as commission from that facility.
On the last day of his cross-examination from state prosecutors led by Mrs Evelyn Keelson, a Chief State Attorney, Ato Essien said, he earned the GHc27.5M as a “finders fee” for helping the bank secure that loan.
It was the case of the Chief State Attorney that, there was no board approval for the payment of the 27.5m he received as the so-called finder’s fee.
In his response, he said, “Reference to my witness statement, I had categorically stated that the board duly approved for the payment of the finder’s fee.”
When his attention was drawn to an “exhibit EEEE4” – a statement dated June 6, 2018 that, it is clear from that exhibit that there was no board approval, but Ato Essien insisted it was approved.
“In my earlier statement, I admitted that, I was in receipt of the GHc2.7m which was finder’s investment and same invested in completion of Ocean Spring” he stated.
Reading portions of the said exhibit, he said, “I also paid GHc1m as part of the finders which I have also admitted to refund and I write this statement it is left with 26.5 because this is finder’s there is no need for board approval and the determination of what the money of put into or use for. The practice is for management decisions and captured as such and not for the board to approve.”
He told the court that, “This is clearly a reinforcement of the role between the executive directors and the non executive directors. Management approval is a tacit approval of the servant of the bank. The clarification here is when EOCO had demanded a documentary engagement of the role, I played and in my answer to that, I had said management oral agreement was all that I needed to proceed to find the bank the money and not the case of board approving payment of finder’s fee. This was the context in which this statement was written.”
When it was put to him again by the Chief State Attorney that out of liquidity support of GHc620M that was granted to capital bank, he dishonestly misappropriated an approximately GHc200 million.
In his response, he said that assertion was incorrect, saying, ” because I am not a Management of the bank. I am not a signatory to the bank. I am not part of the day-to-day operations of the bank. I therefore cannot have access to the treasury of the bank.”
Mrs Keelson had said, the said money was for his personal use in setting up sovereign bank and completing the establishment of Ocean Spring.
But, Ato Essien debunked that, assertion, saying, “I never had any personal benefit and my personal bank account can prove same.”
Mrs Keelson finally put to him that, his action of taking approximately GHc200M belonging to Capital Bank for his personal use led to the collapse of Capital Bank, but Ato Essien disagreed.
“My lord, it is factually incorrect because, I currently stand on trial for 130m and 27.5m finder’s fee which I legitimately earned,” he responded.
“Cumulative of this figures is 170.5 and I did not appropriate it for my personal use. My appropriation was only limited to the 27.5m which I legitimately earned and had the the right to use it the way I please.”
Ato Essien who is the first accused person has been discharged from the witness box.
The court presided over by Justice Eric Kyei Baffour, a Justice of the Court of Appeal has been adjourned to March 1, 2022 for him to call his next witness.
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