Founder of defunct Capital Bank, William Ato Essien

Justice Eric Kyei Baffour, the judge who sentenced the founder of the defunct Capital Bank, William Ato Essien, has justified his ruling.

He said the convict (Ato Essien) demonstrated sheer greed and needed to pay the price for his action.

Delivering his ruling on Thursday, October 12, the judge insisted that Mr Essien aimed at stealing gargantuan sums of money from the state through his conduct.

According to the judge, nothing was going to have him (Ato Essien) change his mind on the matter.

“The convict demonstrated sheer greed in his desire to own another bank besides Capital Bank Ltd and left no stone unturned through subterfuge and deceit with pure criminal intent to set up Sovereign Bank Ltd.”

“Being in a position of trust, he was expected to have demonstrated a sense of responsibility and true fidelity. He had no cause, whatsoever, to steal such gargantuan sums of money,” the presiding judge said.

Mr Essien was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment with hard labour by Justice Eric Kyei Baffour.

Ato Essien’s imprisonment comes following his inability to fully pay the GH¢90m amount back to the State after agreeing to do so.

He earlier paid ¢30 million upfront in December 2022 and was required to pay ¢20 million as the first installment of the ¢60 million outstanding amount by April 28, 2023.

But he was only able to pay ¢5 million. In May, he was given until July 4, to liquidate his assets and pay the state GH¢55 million. This deadline elapsed without any payments made.

The state then submitted a request to the court, seeking a custodial sentence in line with the agreed terms.

Justice Eric Kyei Baffour upon a request by the convict’s lawyer deferred the hearing of the application to impose a custodial sentence.

But the judge having exhausted his patience allowed the state to move the application.

The judge upon hearing the application jailed Ato Essien to spend 15 years in prison.

Essien, thus, becomes the first banking executive to serve a jail term following the massive banking sector clean-up in 2017 that led to the collapse of seven indigenous banks, including Capital Bank.


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, a private legal practitioner, Kweku Paintsil has said Ato Essien’s jailing is not surprising.

Mr Paintsil noted that Mr Essien’s jail term has nothing to do with his capability to pay the judgement sum.

However, it is the natural consequence of his noncompliance with the terms agreed with the court.

“The conviction that came as a result of his noncompliance or failure to pay the money ordered by the court is not surprising. It is the natural consequences of his noncompliance,” he told Blessed Sogah on Thursday, October 12, 2023.