The commercial division of the High Court in Accra ordered the former CEO of the now defunct Capital Bank, William Ato Essien, to conclude compensation negotiations with the state within 20 days.
The court said it would be required to build the case to open its defense on November 4, if it was unable to reach an agreement with the prosecution.
This was after his lawyers and the prosecution reached an agreement for the second time to resume negotiations under Article 35 of the Courts (Reparation and Restitution) Act.
Former Capital Bank CEO William Ato Essien, along with Tetteh Nettey and Fitzgerald Odonkor have been asked to open their defense in response to some 23 charges, including theft.
In court on Thursday, October 14, 2021, Ato Essien’s attorney, attorney Baffour Gyau Bonsu Ashia holding Thaddeus Sory’s brief, told the court that they had decided to reactivate section 35 of the law on the courts with the prosecution.
âMonsignor, before the start of the trial before this court, the first accused filed an application before this court to avail himself of the provision of section 35 of the Courts Act. Monsignor, we have entered into discussions with the prosecution, but the discussion suffered some delays and was therefore temporarily suspended.
âWe sent a letter to the prosecution asking for the resumption of discussions. We received a response from the prosecution indicating their willingness to give us the opportunity. It is our humble prayer that this court leans towards us and gives us the opportunity, âhe noted.
Ms. Marina Appiah-Opare, Attorney General representing the state, confirmed to the court the state’s willingness to resume negotiations with the first defendant.
âIndeed, we have received a request from the first accused through his counsel for the resumption of discussions about their desire to avail themselves of article 35 of the act of justice and to proceed with restitution.
She said: âWe are open to resuming said discussion and have duly informed the lawyer for the first accused. We say that said discussion, we hope, should not take more than two weeks and therefore if this tribunal is willing to grant an adjournment, it should take two weeks.
Presiding Judge Eric Kyei Baffour, a Court of Appeal judge sitting with additional responsibility as a High Court judge, has adjourned the case until November 4 for the parties to conclude negotiations.
âAs the learned state prosecutor confirmed in court that the first defendant still wishes to benefit from section 35 of the Courts Act, Act 459 (1994) in terms of the proposal to pay compensation and reparation to the republic for all the alleged losses caused to the Republic, I have carefully considered the plea and also weighed it against the need not to suspend unnecessarily or indefinitely the trial for which he is supposed to open his defense after that the prosecution called 17 witnesses and closed its case.
He said: âIn weighing these two competing interests and balancing them, I am of the opinion that an adjournment of no more than 20 days to allow the parties to conclude negotiations would be an appropriate time. If this is not done, no injustice would be inflicted on the first accused if the trial were to resume while the parties attempt to conclude negotiations.
“Accordingly,” he said, “the court will proceed to trial at the next postponed date, even if there is no agreement so as not to violate the right of the first accused to a fair trial. within a reasonable period of time as stipulated by the constitution, âthe court said.
EIB Network legal correspondent Murtala Inusah reports that William Ato Essien and Nettey Tetteh were absent in court. While Ato Essien is reportedly ill, Tetteh was told by the court that he was in mourning, that he did not have his mother.
About Section 35 of the Courts Act – Offer of Indemnification or Restitution
(1) When a person is charged with an offense in the High Court or a regional court, the commission of which has caused economic loss, injury or damage to the State or to any public body, the accused may inform the prosecutor if the
the accused admits the offense and is prepared to offer compensation or to make restitution and reparation for the loss, injury or damage caused.
(2) When an accused makes an offer of compensation or restitution and
repair, the prosecutor examines whether the offer is acceptable to the prosecution.
(3) If the offer is not acceptable to the prosecution, the matter in court is heard.
(4) If the offer is acceptable to the prosecution, the prosecutor, in the presence of the accused, shall inform the court, which will consider whether the offer of compensation or restitution and reparation is satisfactory.
(5) When the Court considers the offer satisfactory, the Court accepts a plea of ââguilty from the accused and condemns the accused on his own plea, and instead of sentencing the accused, makes an order for the accused to pay compensation or make restitution and redress.
(6) A court order made under subsection (5) is subject to such conditions as the court may order.
(7) Where a person convicted under this section defaults in paying a sum of money required of the person under this section or does not meet a condition imposed by the Court under subsection ( 6), any unpaid amount becomes due and payable and on default, the Court proceeds to
sentence the accused to a custodial sentence.[AsreplacedbyLoide2002surlestribunaux(modification)(Loi620)[AssubstitutedbytheCourts(Amendment)Act2002(Act620)[TellequeremplacÃ©eparlaLoide2002surlestribunaux(modification)(Loi620)[AssubstitutedbytheCourts(Amendment)Act2002(Act620)
A careful analysis of the state indictment indicates that the four (4) defendants were charged with a total of 26 counts.
The charges are Conspiracy to steal contrary to Section 23 (1) and 124 (1) of the Criminal Offenses Act, 1960 (Act 29), aiding and abetting crime, namely theft contrary to the Article 20 (1) and 124 (1) of the Criminal Law. Offenses Act, 1960 (Bill 29), Theft contrary to section 23 (1) and 124 (1) of the Criminal Offenses Act, 1960 (Bill 29), and Money Laundering contrary to section 1 (1) (a) of the Anti-Money Laundering Law, 2008 (Law 749).
In total, William Ato Essien is charged with eight (8) counts of theft contrary to Sections 23 (1) and 124 (1) of the Criminal Offenses Act, 1960 (Act 29), eight (8) counts charge of money laundering contrary to Article 1 (1) (a) of the Money Laundering Act, 2008 (Law 749) and three (3) counts of conspiracy to steal contrary to section 23 (1) and 124 (1) of the Criminal Offenses Act, 1960 (Act 29), which makes a total of 19 charges applicable to him.
Tetteh Nettey, according to the indictment, faces two (2) counts of theft contrary to Sections 23 (1) and 124 (1) of the Criminal Offenses Act, 1960 (Bill 29 ), two (2) counts of money laundering contrary to Article 1 (1) (a) of the Anti-Money Laundering Law, 2008 (Law 749) and two (2) counts of charge of conspiracy to steal contrary to Sections 23 (1) and 124 (1) of the Criminal Offenses Act, 1960 (Act 29), making a total of 6 counts.
Fitzgerald Odonkor, meanwhile, is charged with seven (7) counts of aiding and abetting crime, namely theft contrary to Sections 20 (1) and 124 (1) of the Criminal Offenses Act 1960 ( law 29).