Ato Essien’s GH¢90m deal was reasonable – Deputy AG

The Deputy Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Alfred Tuah-Yeboah has justified government’s GH¢90 million restitution deal with the founder of the defunct Capital Bank, William Ato Essien.

Mr Tuah-Yeboah said despite criticisms the government has been short-changed, the deal by Ato Essien was reasonable and fair to the state.

“It matters not the position of Ato Essien, he decided to take advantage of the law, and he made an offer that the state considered to be reasonable and this is where we are today,” Mr Tuah-Yeboah said on the Point Blank segment on Eyewitness News on Tuesday, December 13.

A High Court in Accra on Tuesday changed its position and accepted the GH¢90 million repayment terms for a restitution deal between state prosecutors and Ato Essien.

Justice Eric Kyei Baffour, a Justice of Appeal, sitting as an additional High Court Judge, had earlier rejected the agreement, indicating that the amount agreed to be paid was not good enough.

According to Mr Tuah-Yeboah, the state argued that the funds were state funds and accepting the restitution deal will not amount to the state being short-changed.

Ato Essien and two others have been on trial for the past three years for their involvement in the collapse of Capital Bank. The prosecution had also accused Mr Essien of misappropriating GH¢620 million in liquidity support extended by the Bank of Ghana to help keep the bank afloat.

Mr Tuah-Yeboah explained on Eyewitness News that the prosecution and the accused in arriving at the agreement told the court they came under section 35 of the Courts Act, 1993, Act 459 (as amended) which he said is available to everyone who wrongs the state except people charged with rape or murder.

Section 35 of the Courts Act provision states as follows: “(1) Where a person is charged with an offence before the High Court or a Regional Tribunal, the commission of which has caused economic loss, harm or damage to the State or any State agency, the accused may inform the prosecutor whether the accused admits the offence and is willing to offer compensation or make restitution and reparation for the loss, harm or damage caused.”

Mr Tuah-Yeboah also indicated that Ato Essien’s conviction is the first of many prosecutions of people who are believed to have caused financial loss to the State leading to the banking sector clean-up.

He noted that former owners of collapsed banks such as Dr. Kwabena Duffour of uniBank and Kofi Amoabeng of UT Bank and others will be prosecuted in order to recover monies misspent.