William Ato Essien
The Commercial Division of the Accra High Court has refused an application by the Founder of the defunct Capital Bank, William Ato Essien, which sought to halt the trial pending a review of the court’s ruling which dismissed the accused person’s submission of no case.
In a ruling today, Thursday, July 29, 2021, the court, presided over by Justice Eric Kyei-Baffuor, a Justice of the Court of Appeal who was sitting as a High Court Judge, held that the application for stay of proceedings did not demonstrate exceptional circumstance for the court to halt the trial.
Essien, together with Fitzgerald Odonkor, the Managing Director of the bank, and Tettey Nettey, the Managing Director of MC Management Services, a company said to be owned by Essien, have been accused of stealing depositors’ funds leading to the collapse of the bank.
They have all denied the accusation of conniving and stealing GH¢620 million liquidity support given to the defunct Capital Bank by the Bank of Ghana (BoG). After the prosecution brought its case to a close, lawyers for the accused persons in June this year, filed a submission of no case in line with Section 173 of the Criminal and Other Offences (Procedure) Act, 1960 (Act 30).
However, the court on July 18, this year, ruled that the prosecution was able to establish a prima facie case against the accused person and, therefore, ordered them to open their defence.
On July 22, 2020, Counsel for Essien, Mr Baffour Gyawu Ashia Bonsu, notified the court about the stay of proceedings pending his application for review at the Appellate court. Mr Bonsu, who moved the motion in court today argued that exceptional circumstances exist in his client’s application because there was a “viable chance of the success” of his client’s appeal at the appellate court.
“The grounds of appeal raises very serious and fundamental issues to be determined by the appellate court,” Counsel said.
In her response, a Chief State Attorney, Ms Marina Appiah Opare who opposed the application urged the court to dismiss it.
She argued her position on three grounds.
She argued that that the appeal had no chance of success and that the applicant had not demonstrated any exceptional circumstance to warrant the grant of stay of proceedings. Lastly, Ms Opare said the application for stay of proceedings, when granted will delay the trial as it would affect the other accused person in the case.
“It will cause an undue delay and inconvenience to the other accused persons who are not likely to derive any substantial benefits from Ato Essien’s application for stay,” she said.
Justice Kyei-Baffuor in his ruling said, “Reading the application together with the affidavit, and examining the whole processes, the court can only state that the chance of success on the applicant at the appellate court is very bleak.
“I find no justification or compelling reason to grant this application. Same is declined,” he held.