An account of Ato Essien's case and 15 year-jail term

The judgment of the court follows Mr. Essien's inability to pay in full the restitution amount of GHC 90 million.

Is allowance instantly strangers applauded

The High Court (Commercial Division 7) has sentenced the founder of defunct Capital Bank, William Ato Essien to 15 years to prison with hard labour, following a plea of mitigation made by Mr. Essien's lawyers.

The judgment of the court follows Mr. Essien's inability to pay in full the restitution amount of GHC 90 million. 

Restitution Deal

In December 2022, the High Court accepted the settlement between the state and Ato Essien, after he pleaded guilty. Per the terms of the agreement, Mr. Essien who had already paid GHc 30 million was expected to pay the remaining GHc 60 million in three tranches. 

The deal was made possible under section 35 of the Courts Act, 1993 (Act 459), which allows an accused person standing trial for causing financial loss to the state to pay compensation or restitution and possibly avoid a custodial sentence. 

AG's application to the court

However, following his inability to meet the first tranche of Ghc 20 million on the outstanding Ghc 60 million which was due on April 28, 2023, the Attorney-General in May, filed an application, urging the court to impose custodial sentence on him. 

"That having failed to fulfill a condition imposed by him on this Honourable Court, under section 35 of the Courts Act, the outstanding amount under the agreement has become due and the respondent is liable to a custodial sentence by the Court.

Wherefore I swear to this affidavit, praying for an order imposing custodial sentence on the respondent," the AG said in its affidavit in support of the application. 

Ato Essien meanwhile filed a motion seeking a renegotiation of the deal. This was however dismissed by the court. 

First lifeline to honour restitution deal

On May 17, 2023, the AG was expected to move its motion seeking custodial sentence on the convict. But this was put on hold by the court presided over by Justice Eric Kyei Barfour, who noted that Ato Essien had made fresh commitments to honour the deal.

According to the judge, Mr Essien has paid an extra GHc five million and thus expecting some money from the sale of his assets.

As such, Justice Kyei Baffour decided to give him a lifeline by temporarily restraining the AG from moving his application till the next adjourned date.

Another lifeline

Mr. Essien was then given a second lifeline on July 4, 2023, after he had paid an additional GHc 2 million, bring the amount he has paid on the first tranche of the GHC 20 million restitution to GHC 8 million

The court therefore gave him up to three weeks to pay the outstanding amounts.

However, Mr. Essien has since been unable to pay the remaining amounts. This includes the GHc 12 million on the first installment and the outstanding GHc 40 million - bringing the total amount on his restitution to GHc 53 million. 


Capital Bank was one of the first banks to fold up during the start of the financial sector clean-up by the Bank of Ghana in 2017. 

Following the collapse, the founder of the bank, Ato Essien,  was accused by the state of causing the insolvency of the bank by stealing about GH¢200 million of a GH¢620 million liquidity support given to the bank by the Bank of Ghana (BoG).

Ato Essien was charged with eight counts of stealing, eight counts of money laundering, and three counts of conspiracy to steal.

Ato Essien was standing trial alongside two others, Fitzgerald Odonkor, and Dr Tetteh Nettey for various offences - stealing, abetment to steal, conspiracy to steal, and money laundering.