Capital Bank MD & founder ‘fight’ in open court as Board Chair Otabil ‘snores’ at home

There was drama in court when a former Managing Director of the defunct Capital bank, Fitzgerald Odonkor literally threw his Bank’s founder, William Ato Essien under the bus to protect himself in the ongoing criminal trial over the alleged misappropriation of a Bank of Ghana Liquidity support to the bank they both led.

While the two officers of the Bank slug it out in court, Board Chairman of the Bank, Dr. Mensah Otabil is sleeping at home with the state choosing to exclude him from the criminal trial that involves almost all key decision-makers of the Bank.

In court presided over by Justice Eric Kyei Baffuor, Mr. Odonkor said the management of Capital Bank raised concerns about how portions of the GH¢620 million liquidity support given to the Capital Bank by the Bank of Ghana ( BoG) was used, a remark that goes to hurt the case of William Ato Essien.

In addition to what transpired yesterday in court, in April this year, Mr. Odonkor said he as MD did not approve the payment of an amount of ¢27.5 million to the founder of the Bank, Mr. Essien.

Fitzgerald Odonkor also told the Court he believed that the said transaction was not in the Bank’s interest as he also stands trial as a third accused in the same case with Essien.

In court yesterday, Odonkor had more to add to prove his innocence, revealing some payments and placement of funds had no management approval.

He said this when he was being cross-examined by counsel for Ato Essien, Baffuor Gyau Bonsu Ashia, at the High Court over how some Gh¢130million was placed with All Time Capital and Nordea Capital made up of Gh¢100million and Gh¢30million tranches respectively.

Mr. Odonkor as Capital Bank MD said management was not in support of the placement and said minutes of the meetings held over the matter will bear him out.

“Management headed by the MD clearly stated their misgivings with the placement of GH¢ 30 million into Nordea Capital”.

Asked by counsel what management’s position was, Odonkor said, “Management was of the opinion that for the effective management of the liquidity support, it was not prudent to place GH¢ 30 million with Nordea Capital”.

Essien is standing trial with Fitzgerald Odonkor, a former MD of the bank and Tettey Nettey, the MD of MC Management Services, a company said to be owned by Essien.

The prosecution has accused the three persons of engaging in various illegal acts that led to the dissipation of a chunk of the GH¢620 million liquidity support given to the Capital Bank by the BoG between June 2015 and November 2016.

Capital Bank was one of the first banks that collapsed after a massive clean-up of the financial institutions by the BoG which started in 2017.

On August 14, 2017, its licence and that of UT Bank were revoked by the BoG, after the central bank had declared them insolvent.

The BoG allowed the state-owned bank, the GCB Bank, to acquire the two banks in order to protect depositors’ funds and also enable them to stay afloat.