Court Throws Out Ato Essien’s Plea To Renegotiate Repayment Of Stolen GHS600

The High Court in Accra has refused an application by Ato Essien to renegotiate the agreement with the State on the refund of GH¢60 million stolen from the State, and has adjourned the case to May 17, 2023.

The lawyers moved the application when the State was set to argue its case on why Ato Essien should be jailed for not meeting the terms of repaying the GH¢60 million owed to the State.

The State filed the application after the convict failed to meet his financial obligations under the agreement that initially enabled him to escape a jail sentence.

Ato Essien pleaded guilty to the charges of stealing and money laundering for his involvement in the collapse of Capital Bank, which he used to own. This was after he signed an agreement with the State under section 35 of the courts act.

The terms of the agreement mandated him to refund an amount of GH¢90 million he agreed to have stolen. As part of that, he paid GH¢30 million in December and was expected to repay the remaining GH¢60 million in 2023 in three equal instalments, with the first tranche due on April 28.

But as of May 2, checks from the Controller and Accountant General’s office revealed that the GH¢20 million had not been paid, a situation that compelled the AG to initiate the instant application.

However, the court did not hear the application as the lawyer for Ato Essien had filed an application to suspend the proceedings to impose a custodial sentence on his client and to grant leave for further negotiations on the terms of the contract.

Thaddeus Sorry Esq argued that the application of section 35(7) of the courts act, which gives powers to the court to impose custodial sentence on an accused person when he fails to meet the terms of an agreement, will amount to an absurdity in respect of the case.

The Lawyer urged the court to apply a purposive interpretation rather than a literal interpretation of section 35(7) of the Courts Act. It was the view of the counsel for Ato Essien that the aforementioned section is aimed at helping the State make recoveries in cases relating to financial loss to the state, hence any action that does not lead to this aim will be against the intent of the framers of the Act.

“This is a situation not anticipated by section 35 of the Courts Act. We are urging section 10(4) of the interpretation act which requires the court to take into account the purpose of a statute in interpreting the act. The state will not deny that it is to help them recover,” Thaddeus Sory said in court on Thursday. 

He also queried what will happen to the monies paid already in case the court imposes a custodial sentence on him.

The judge however hinted that it will be taken into account when it becomes necessary to impose a sentence.

Source: Citinewsroom

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