Supreme Court Dismisses Ato Essien

The Supreme Court yesterday dismissed an application filed by founder and Chief Executive Officer of defunct Capital Bank, William Ato Essien, seeking special leave of the court to file an appeal before it.

The application was seeking leave of the court pursuant to Rule 7 of the Supreme Court Rules to file an appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal dismissing his appeal against the High Court admitting an unsigned minute of a meeting held by the executive committee and some board members of the defunct bank.

Ato Essien is on trial with the defunct bank’s former Managing Director, Fitzgerald Odonkor, as well as Tetteh Nettey, a former Managing Director of MC Management Services owned by Mr. Essien, for conspiracy to steal and stealing charges.

The charges relate to the accused persons allegedly stealing from the GH₵620 million Bank of Ghana gave as liquidity support to the defunct bank which was struggling to meet its obligations to its customers.

The trial court presided over by Justice Eric Kyei Baffour, a Court of Appeal judge sitting as an additional High Court judge, on April 7, 2022, admitted the minutes as well as other documents which were all attached to the witness statement of Fitzgerald Odonkor, when he opened his defence in the trial.

Baffour Gyau Bonsu Ashia, counsel for Ato Essien had objected to the tendering of the minutes which were not signed, arguing that its admission could be injurious to his client’s defence.

He later filed an appeal against the decision as well as a stay of proceedings pending the determination of the appeal. The application for stay of proceedings was dismissed by the trial court, and he repeated it at the Court of Appeal, which was also dismissed.

The Court of Appeal also dismissed the appeal challenging the admission of the unsigned minutes of the board into evidence.

His lawyer subsequently filed an application at the Supreme Court seeking leave to file an appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal, which was opposed by Marina Appiah Opare, a Chief State Attorney.

A five-member panel of the court presided over by Justice Jones Dotse and assisted by Justices Nene Amegatcher, Nii Ashie Kotey, Gertrude Torkornoo and Yonny Kulendi, held that there was nothing in the application to convince the court to grant the accused person leave to file an appeal against the decision of the court.

Mr. Ashia subsequently withdrew the application seeking stay of proceedings pending the determination of the first application and it was struck out as withdrawn.

Meanwhile, Justice Nene Amegatcher was not impressed with the way some lawyers are filing interlocutory applications just to frustrate the prosecution of financial and corruption related crimes.

He said it is in the interest of the country for such cases to be tried expeditiously, making references to Nigeria where such cases are often done within three months.