Home » Former Bank CEO Jailed, Still Owes Millions to State

Former Bank CEO Jailed, Still Owes Millions to State

by Victor Adetimilehin

The former chief executive of the collapsed Capital Bank in Ghana, Ato Essien, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labor for his role in the bank’s demise. He still owes the state 53 million Ghanaian cedis ($9.1 million) and faces asset seizure if he fails to pay.

Essien pleaded guilty to 16 counts of stealing, money laundering, and conspiracy to steal for his involvement in the collapse of Capital Bank in 2017. The bank was one of seven that failed due to mismanagement and fraud, costing the state more than 12 billion cedis ($2 billion) in bailouts.

The deputy attorney-general, Alfred Tuah-Yeboah, said the state’s pursuit of Essien will persist even after his imprisonment. He said Essien had entered into a payment agreement with the state under Section 35 of the Courts Act, where he was expected to pay 90 million cedis ($15.4 million) and had paid 37 million cedis ($6.3 million) so far.

However, Essien defaulted on the remaining 53 million cedis ($9.1 million), which he was supposed to pay by March 2023. Tuah-Yeboah said this breach of agreement led to the custodial sentence, which does not exempt him from meeting his financial obligations to the state.

“We entered into this agreement with him under Section 35 with the understanding that he goes by the terms of the agreement and he made some commitments by paying 37 and he couldn’t go through the entire agreement and he had to go and serve the fifteen years,” Tuah-Yeboah said.

He added that the state is committed to reclaiming the money by seizing Essien’s immediate assets, such as his properties and vehicles. He said the state will also pursue any other assets that Essien may have hidden or transferred to third parties.

Essien’s sentence is the first conviction of a former bank executive in Ghana since the banking crisis that rocked the country’s financial sector four years ago. The crisis exposed widespread corruption and poor governance in some banks, leading to their collapse and subsequent takeover by the central bank.

The central bank has since introduced reforms to strengthen the banking sector, such as increasing the minimum capital requirement, enhancing supervision, and enforcing corporate governance standards. The government has also set up a special prosecutor’s office to investigate and prosecute cases of corruption and financial crimes.

The banking crisis has had a negative impact on Ghana’s economy, which was already struggling with high debt, low revenue, and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The government has sought financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other creditors to cope with the fiscal challenges.

However, despite the difficulties, Ghana remains one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa, thanks to its rich natural resources, such as gold, cocoa, and oil. The country is also known for its stable democracy, peaceful elections, and vibrant civil society.

Many Ghanaians hope that Essien’s sentence will serve as a deterrent to other corrupt bankers and a signal of accountability and justice in the country’s financial sector. They also hope that the state will recover the money owed by Essien and use it for development projects that will benefit the people.

Source: [GhanaWeb]

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