Lawyer, Kweku Paintsil, has revealed that convicted founder of defunct Capital Bank, William Ato Essien, has only one opportunity in avoiding jail term, which is via the executive intervention by the President.
According to him, the law only provides option for applying to set aside the judgement on grounds such as fraud, deceit, incapacity, unsound mind, and anything that can vitiate the agreement.
In other words, he indicated that the agreement might be that at all the times that the person entered into the plea bargain agreement, either he was not “compos mentis – in the sense that he did not appreciate what he did or that he was induced beyond something that we all saw on the surface”.
However, Mr Paintsil noted that those are thin lines somebody will use to set aside the judgment of a court.
“Of course, the only other option available to him is executive intervention by the President’s prerogative of mercy. The President has power without answering to anybody to decide to pardon anybody of any criminal offense.
“In Ghana, that is a very common path for highly exposed public individuals. The President has been using it, even though not frequently. But as a matter of law, these are the only two options open to Essien, nothing beyond that.”Kweku Paintsil
Elaborating on his stance, Mr Paintsil stated that a person who enters into a plea bargain starts by admitting his liability, and once he admits liability, the court has got no further duty to continue with the trial of the matter. As such, he explained that the person is convicted on his own plea.
Laws applicable to plea bargain
Furthermore, Mr Paintsil indicated that the law is also explicit that once a person accepts a plea bargain, he loses the right to appeal against the judgement because the essence of a plea bargain, like a consent judgement, is that it cannot be set aside.
“You entered willingly and freely on your own volition with the help of your lawyer. Indeed, before a judge accepts a plea bargain by accepting your conviction, the judge is supposed to take you on oath, to make you admit these essential elements of the plea-bargaining agreement. So, the answer to that question is a flat no.”Kweku Paintsil
Commenting on the impact of Ato Essien’s conviction on the entire process of banking sector cleanup, Mr Paintsil insisted that it’s good for the banking sector because in Ghana, everybody takes the country for granted.
“He revealed that Ghana is in the present crisis because the government bailed bank owners out who carried monies in “jute bags” and are living a flamboyant lifestyle.
“Now, Essien is talking about properties outside Ghana, whose money did he use to buy those properties? It does not apply to Essien alone, it applies to the whole banking sector, all the people who took all our monies – Essien is just one. I heard the deputy attorney general talking about five others, what about the other non-financial banking institution? The loans and savings companies, all the monies that they took, and the Ghana government has paid each one of the investors.”Kweku Paintsil
Meanwhile, Mr Paintsil questioned how these monies can be retrieved from such unscrupulous persons. To this end, he noted that it’s all about how the Attorney General can “revamp the prosecution”.
” … The whole idea is to ensure, either that we’re getting the monies which these people took, or the culprits must follow on their conduct. That’s the way to run a country…”Kweku Paintsil