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Former Capital Bank CEO, William Ato Essien, sentenced to 15 years in prison for embezzlement

William Ato Essien, the former Chief Executive Officer of the defunct Capital Bank, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for embezzling GHC 90 million cedis.

The sentence comes after Mr Essien changed his plea to guilty on 16 counts of Conspiracy to steal, stealing, and money laundering. The court had previously suspended his sentence, provided he agreed to refund the misappropriated amount.

Despite paying GHC 37 million cedis, Mr Essien failed to refund the entire amount, leading the state to seek his incarceration.

The Court, in delivering the sentence, noted the severity of the case, as Essien's actions had contributed to the bank's collapse and the subsequent loss of jobs. It also highlighted the extensive monetary losses and state bailout efforts.

Mr Essien took advantage of his position as the majority shareholder of the defunct bank and demonstrated greed by establishing Sovereign Bank.

The trial Judge, Justice Eric Kyei Baffour, emphasized that the Court had given Mr. Essien ample opportunities to make payments under the law.

The state's request for a custodial sentence, led by Mr Joshua Sackey, a Senior State Attorney, was granted after Mr Essien failed to pay the outstanding balance of GHC 53 million cedis. While the defence argued for more time, citing various challenges faced by Mr Essien, the Court ultimately handed down the sentence.

Mr. Essien's co-accused, Mr. Tetteh Nettey and Reverend Dr. Fitzgerald Odonkor, were acquitted and discharged by the court.

Although Mr Essien was originally sentenced to a total of 95 years on multiple counts, his partial refund of the money and other mitigating factors led to the final 15-year sentence.

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