Deputy Attorney-General (A-G), Alfred Tuah-Yeboah, has told the directors of the other failed banks, including Unibank, UT and Beige Bank that they are invited to do so if they want to rely on Section 35 which deals with offers of compensation or restitution, to negotiate for payment.
He however said the state is focused on the prosecution of the directors. This was after the court jailed the Chief Executive Officer of the defunct Capital Bank William Ato Essien for the role that he played leading to the fold-up of his bank.
It is recalled that the Bank of Ghana issued a press release on August 14, 2017, announcing the revocation of the license of Capital Bank due to insolvency. UT Bank, Unibank, and Biege Bank also had their license revoked by the central bank during the financial sector clean-up exercise that took place from 2017 to 2019.
The CEO of the Capital Bank Ato Essien was subsequently slapped with a total jail term of 95 years for multiple counts of stealing and money laundering. These sentences are to run concurrently hence, he will be spending 15 years in jail.
Despite reaching an agreement to refund GHC90 million to the state, he only managed to refund GHC37 million to the state, hence the imposition of the custodial sentence. Speaking to TV3 after the sentencing, on Thursday, October 12, the Deputy Attorney General said “Effectively, he has been sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. This is a matter that started long ago and last year, he decided to enter into an agreement for him to take advantage of section 35.
“We were expecting that he would go by the agreement that we had but unfortunately on his part, he could not fulfil his part of the bargain. As we speak he has been able to pay close to about 37 million Cedis and because of his inability to pay the rest, per the agreement that we had, the court had the right to sentence him to a prison term and the court just did that.
“I am yet to get the full complement of the orders of the court, now that he has been imprisoned if he gets the money to pay that is another ballgame to look at because after a court has given its ruling or judgment the court becomes functus officio, so my expectation is that when he pays then he goes into mitigation when he wants to appeal the sentence.
“Let’s hope that he gets the money to pay. Let us also add that even if he is going to serve the 15 years Ghanaians have also benefited somehow because at least 37 million Cedis has been paid to the state. if he had been sentenced last year we wouldn’t have even recovered this.”
Asked for his response on the other cases and whether or not the state is focused on retrieving the money from those directors too, Mr Tuah-Yeboah said “As we speak we have other cases in court, Beige bank is in court, we are hearing the matter. UT is also in court, we have other banks, like Duffuor’s bank (Unibank) all in court, and we are doing them one after the other.
“If the money that we have lost they are ready to refund the money we will look at section 35 and go by that and we can have the same agreement.
“Our preoccupation is to ensure that justice is done, this can be done either we get the money or if we don’t get we go to the full hog and get the judgment and if they are convicted so be it. So if any of the others facing trial are of the opinion that they want to use section 35, nobody stops them because it is not limited to Ato Essien, it is limited to all other people but we are still prosecuting our cases in court.”
Section 35 – Offer Of Compensation Or Restitution
(1) 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.
(2) Where an accused makes an offer of compensation or restitution and reparation, the prosecutor shall consider if the offer is acceptable to the prosecution.
(3) If the offer is not acceptable to the prosecution the case before the Court shall proceed.
(4) If the offer is acceptable to the prosecution, the prosecutor shall in the presence of the accused, inform the Court which shall consider if the offer of compensation or restitution and reparation is satisfactory.
(5) Where the Court considers the offer to be satisfactory, the Court shall accept a plea of guilty from the accused and convict the accused on his own plea, and in lieu of passing sentence on the accused, make an order for the accused to pay compensation or make restitution and reparation.
(6) An order of the Court under subsection (5) shall be subject to such conditions as the Court may direct.
(7) Where a person convicted under this section defaults in the payment of any money required of the person under this section or fails to fulfil any condition imposed by the Court under subsection (6), any amount outstanding shall become due and payable and upon failure to make the payment, the Court shall proceed to pass a custodial sentence on the accused. [As substituted by the Courts (Amendment) Act, 2002 (Act 620),.
By: Laud Nartey