The former CEO of the now-defunct Capital Bank, Ato Essien, has been handed a 15-year prison sentence with hard labor.
He is recieving this punishment because of his inability to fulfill his GH¢90 million debt obligation, regardless of the opportunities he was given.
In May 2023, the court granted Ato Essien a two-month window to make full payment of the initial GH¢20 million out of the GH¢60 million he was required to pay.
All these troubles began when he was convicted in December 2022 after voluntarily entering a plea agreement with the state under section 35 of the Courts Act. This arrangement was designed to prevent a custodial sentence, but it was contingent on him meeting the GH¢90 million debt obligation imposed by the court.
According to the terms of the agreement, Essien was to settle the GH¢90 million debt by the end of 2023. In December 2022, he made an initial payment of GH¢30 million and was expected to pay the rest in three equal installments throughout 2023.
The first installment was due by the end of April 2023, and failure to meet this deadline risked triggering a custodial sentence. Unfortunately, when April concluded, Ato Essien had only paid GH¢6 million of the required GH¢20 million.
The state took action by petitioning the court to impose the custodial sentence, as stipulated in the agreement for a breach of the payment plan.
Further investigations revealed that Ato Essien had only managed to make an additional payment of GH¢2 million, bringing the total amount paid toward the first installment to GH¢8 million. A significant balance of GH¢12 million remained unpaid.
In the larger context, this means that out of the GH¢90 million debt, the convicted former CEO had paid just GH¢38 million, leaving a staggering GH¢52 million outstanding.
Consequently, the court rendered its verdict, sentencing Ato Essien to 15 years in prison with hard labor, underscoring the seriousness of financial obligations imposed by the court.