Lawyer Martin Kpebu.
Lawyer Martin Kpebu.

Private Legal Practitioner, Martin Kpebu, has commended Justice Eric Kyei Baffour, the presiding Judge for the case between the State and founder of Capital Bank, William Ato Essien, for rejecting a settlement between both parties.

He agreed with the judge that the terms for the settlement do not favour the state, thus, should be reconsidered.

Mr. Essien, per the proposed settlement, agreed to pay GH₵90 million in total: GH₵30 million today and GH₵60 million in an agreed installment settlement with the state.

But in court on Thursday, December 1, 2022, the presiding judge, Justice Eric Kyei Baffour, who was ready with his judgment, said the state appears to have been compromised.

“So, after three years of going through prosecution with the state calling 17 witnesses, is this the best settlement for the prosecution? It appears the state is compromised.”

Justice Kyei Baffour added that Section 35 of the Courts Act upon which the terms of the settlement were based is inapplicable in this case.

Section 35 of the Courts Act states that “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.”

Reacting to the ruling, Mr Kpebu said “the judge has done extremely well and he should be commended because I buy into the argument that the value of the money today is certainly far less than its value three to four years ago.”

He believes that Mr Essien’s offer is not enough per the rule of time value of money and must be prepared to offer a significant offer before such settlement could be considered.

“It is always good to recover money from accused persons rather than throwing them into jail. It does not serve anybody’s interest as such.

“Looking at it, it appears that Mr. Ato Essien would have to increase his offer significantly or like we say in Ghanaian English, gargantuan. So that the judge will find it very difficult to reject same and that would help. Because as I said we do not benefit that much when an accused person is going to jail, especially when there is no violent offence,” he said on Top Story, Thursday.

William Ato Essien, Rev. Fitzgerald Odonkor and Tetteh Nettey, a former Managing Director of MC Management Service owned by Mr. Essien were charged with 23 counts of conspiracy, stealing from the ¢620 million liquidity support given to the bank by the Bank of Ghana (BoG), to enable it to service its maturing debt.

The accused persons, according to the prosecution, opened various bank accounts with Capital Bank through which the ¢620 million BoG liquidity support was transferred while others were carried in jute bags to Ato Essien.

Meanwhile, the court adjourned proceedings to December 13 for the parties to convince the court on the issues that have been raised.