An Accra High Court has granted William Ato Essien, the founder of defunct Capital Bank, an extension until July 4 to liquidate his assets and pay ¢55 million to the state.
The court ruling, delivered by Justice Eric Kyei Baffuor, aims to give Essien a fair opportunity to settle his debt and avoid imprisonment.
Justice Baffuor acknowledged that Essien has taken steps to liquidate assets in Essien Swiss International Holdings, of which he is the sole shareholder, and is expecting substantial sums of money, as stated in his affidavit.
The court adjourned the application, taking into account the possibility that Essien’s assertions in the affidavit are true and that he will be able to fulfill the outstanding payment.
Essien faces the risk of imprisonment for violating the terms of a payment agreement he had made with the Attorney General. He was convicted on charges of money laundering and stealing and agreed to refund ¢90 million to the state.
As part of the agreement, he paid ¢30 million upfront and was required to pay ¢20 million by April 28, 2023, as the first installment of the remaining ¢60 million. However, he has only paid ¢5 million so far.
The Deputy Attorney General, Alfred Tuah Yeboah, argued that under Ghanaian law, the entire outstanding amount becomes due once the accused breaches the terms of the agreement. Therefore, he expects Essien to pay the total outstanding amount of ¢55 million.
Essien’s legal team, led by Baffuor Gyawu Bonsu Ashia, stated that Essien had reached an agreement with a foreign company to sell his assets. However, the Deputy Attorney General pointed out that the amount involved in the agreement was only ¢4 million, which is far from the outstanding ¢55 million.
Despite the discrepancy, the court decided to grant Essien a lifeline by extending the deadline for payment.