Former Chief Executive Officer of defunct Capital Bank, Ato Essien has been handed another lifeline to redeem financial obligations to the state or risk facing a jail term.
The court in May 2023 gave him a two-month window to at least pay in full the first GH¢20 million out of the GH¢60 million he owes the state.
But in court on Tuesday, July 4, the convict was not able to meet this directive.
Ato Essien was convicted in December last year on his own plea after striking a deal with the state under section 35 of the courts act to avoid a custodial sentence.
He has however been having a hard time fulfilling a GH¢90 million debt obligation imposed on him by the court in replacement of the custodial sentence.
According to the agreement, Ato Essien is mandated to pay GH¢90 million by the end of 2023 for which he paid GH¢30 million in December 2022 and was expected to pay the remainder in three equal installments in 2023.
The first tranche was due for payment by the end of April 2023 failure of which placed him at risk of being handed a jail sentence. But at the end of April, the convict had only paid GH¢6 million of the GH¢20 million.
The state filed an application to get the court to issue the custodial sentence as the terms of the agreement required that a breach of the payment plan will amount to the imposition of a custodial sentence on him. The Judge, Justice Eric Kyei Baffour however upon a request by the lawyers of the convict deferred the hearing of the application to impose a custodial sentence.
Ato Essien’s lawyers argued that agreements have been reached with a company for the liquidation of some properties belonging to their client to pay for the debt.
But in the past two months, it has emerged that Ato Essien has only made an additional payment of GH¢2 million. This brings the total amount of the first tranche paid to GH¢8 million with a remainder of GH¢12 million. This means that out of the GH¢90 million debt, the convict has paid only GH¢38 million leaving a remainder of GH¢52 million.
In court on Tuesday, the convict’s lawyers asked for three more months to liquidate the properties.
But the Judge who believe he has been magnanimous towards Ato Essien reluctantly gave him another lifeline to the end of July to make payment of the GH¢12 million.
He adjourned the case to July 27 this year.
Deputy Attorney General, Alfred Tuah-Yeboah says the state will insist on the imposition of the custodial sentence if he fails to settle the debt.
In court on Tuesday, lawyers of Ato Essien outlined issues such as the seizure of the passport of their client as a challenge to raising the amount.
His lawyers hinted at plans to institute an application demanding the release of his passport to him.
But the state says this will be vehemently opposed.