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Attorney General rejects Ato Essien’s proposal to refund GH¢27.5m


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The Attorney-General (A-G) has rejected a proposal by William Ato Essien, founder of the defunct Capital Bank, who is standing trial for allegedly collapsing the bank, to refund GH¢27.5 million to the state.

Ms Marina Appiah Opare, a Chief State Attorney, told the Accra High Court Thursday that the proposal by Essien and his lawyers was totally unacceptable.

According to her, Essien and his lawyers have presented another proposal which the A-G had responded to.

She, therefore, prayed the court to adjourn the case to allow the two sides to conclude negotiations.



The hearing continues on July 9, 2020, at the court, presided Justice Eric Kyei Baffour.

Refund

Ato Essien is standing trial together with three others on allegations of collapsing Capital Bank.

The GH¢27.5 million that Essien wants to pay is part of a GH¢620 million liquidity support given to Capital Bank by the Bank of Ghana (BoG) between June 2015 and November 2016.

It is the case of the prosecution that Essien, and the other accused persons engaged in various illegal acts that led to the dissipation of the GH¢620 million liquidity support.

With regard to the GH¢27.5 million, the prosecution has accused Essien of carrying it in jute bags which he distributed to some individuals for business promotion purposes

Essien wants to refund the money per the Courts Act, 1993 (Act 459), so that four of the 19 charges leveled against him by the state would be dropped.

Escape

The decision by Essien to refund the GH¢27.5miilion to the state is a legal move under Section 35 of Act 459 meant to escape prison sentence.

He has ostensibly pleaded guilty to taking possession of the amount and is willing to correct his wrong for a lesser punishment.

Under Section 35 (1) of Act 459, a person accused of an offence which had caused “economic loss, harm or damage to the state or state agency may inform the prosecutor whether the accused admits and is willing to offer compensation or make restitution and reparation for the loss, harm or damage caused.

Section 35 (2) of Act 459 states that when an accused makes an offer of restitution, the prosecutor shall consider whether the offer is acceptable or not and inform the court.

In the event the offer is not acceptable to the prosecution, the trial shall continue, but if the offer is acceptable, the accused person will plead guilty and the court will convict him on his own plea.

When passing sentence, the court will then order the accused to pay the restitution based on conditions set by the court.

However, per Section 35 (7) of Act 459, if the accused person fails to fulfill the conditions set by the court for the payment of the restitution, the court shall pass a custodial sentence on him.

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