11.10.2019 Business & Finance

Lawyer Describes Capital Bank Owner Charges 'Weird'

Ato Essien is the owner of defunct Capital BankAto Essien is the owner of defunct Capital Bank
11.10.2019 LISTEN

Legal practitioner, Elikplim Agbemava believes government’s charges against the owner of defunct Capital Bank will be difficult to prove in court.

He told Raymond Acquah, host of JoyNews’ UpFront programme on Thursday that there are no provisions in the Banking Act which criminalise the alleged offences by William Ato Essien, founder of the bank, and three other executives.

Ato Essien and the other three have been charged with 26 counts, including stealing, abetment and money laundering.

The Boulders Report stated that the board of Capital Bank had approved illegal loans to its shareholders.

But Agbemava believes the government would find it difficult to prove the charges in court since the Banking Act does not criminalise what was alleged.

He explained, “that is why they [Attorney-General’s department] have shifted to the Criminal Offenses Act.”

Mr. Agbemava argued that this is an unusual way of going about the issue and prosecutors may find it tough to make a case.

The Banking Act, he said should have been used to prosecute the alleged offenders since that is what the report was based on.

“But we don’t have offences that seek to punish people who flout the provision of the Act,” he said.

Since there are no crimes outlined in the Banking Act, Agbemava believes the AG chose to improvise but the accused persons, he said, are most likely to walk free.

The collapse of Capital Bank

The Bank of Ghana revoked the license of Capital Bank in 2017; citing insolvency issues.

The regulator said the owners of the bank conspired to short-change depositors. It then approved a takeover of the bank by state-owned Ghana Commercial Bank.

But the founder of the bank Ato Essien has fought off claims he engaged in any wrongdoing. Rather he believes the government is persecuting him.

In a recent interview, he claimed the Finance Minter and his associate approached him in the year 2016 to buy his bank which he turned down. He alleges that his refusal to sell the bank is what led the government to collapse it.

Agbemava agrees saying even the charges which have now been slapped on Essien is as a result of the interview he granted which suggested complicity of Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta.