“The devil is bad”; Otabil, as he says suit against him just “opinion, not evidence or judgment”

    The General Overseer of the International Central Gospel Church (ICGC), Pastor Mensa Otabil, has said the suit filed against him by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the Receiver of the now-defunct Capital Bank, of which he was Board Chair, is just “somebody’s “opinion” and “not a judgment” or “evidence” against him, adding that the full truth will eventually come out.

    Messrs Vish Ashiagbor and Eric Nana Nipah, both of the accounting and auditing firm, sued Pastor Otabil, ICGC and 13 others in connection with the collapse of Capital Bank in 2017.

    Capital Bank and UT Bank were both declared irredeemably illiquid by the Bank of Ghana in August 2017 and taken over by the state-owned GCB Bank.

    In their writ of summons, the two plaintiffs argued that Capital Bank collapsed as a “direct result” of the defendants’ “misgovernance” and “willful” breaches of banking regulations.

    The plaintiffs say the bank’s founder, William Ato Essien, used depositors’ funds as his ‘personal piggy bank’, and cited an example of his request for the transfer of GHS130 million of rescue funds advanced to the bank by the Bank of Ghana, to Capital and More Ltd., an investment company he had interest in.

    Dr Otabil provided a personal guarantee for the repayment of the loan despite the senior management of the bank opposing the move.

    According to the plaintiffs, the GHS130 million has still not been paid since it was advanced to Capital and More Ltd. in 2015.

    The plaintiffs said in their writ that they had issues with Pastor Otabil’s personal guarantee for the transaction despite the “express opposition” of the senior management of the bank to same.

    They argued that the motivational speaker was “conscious at all material times” that the transaction was in contravention of banking regulations.

    Speaking about the suit for the first time, Pastor Otabil told a Tuesday evening church service at Christ Temple in Accra that: “Wow. Life is very interesting. Very very interesting”.

    “Well, as you know”, he continued, “a couple of things have happened and you’ve heard quite a few of them; you are Ghanaians, so, you hear stuff and I know people have all kinds of questions and so on”.

    “First of all”, he said: “I can’t explain anything to you”, he told the church members, explaining: “I can’t because I’m in court”.

    “So, we will allow the process to continue and hopefully, the full truth will be known”.

    The Chancellor of the Central University College, however, pointed out that: “There’s space for people’s opinion but when you go to court, you are not just dealing with people’s opinion, you are dealing with facts, so, it’s going to be interesting”, he promised.

    “The only thing I want to say, just briefly, is that: A suit, or when somebody sues you, it is not an evidence neither is it judgment. It is just somebody’s opinion.

    “And there will be defence and there will be other things, so, follow closely how things will proceed and how they’ll end”, he urged his church members.

    “The last time I said: ‘God is good’ and people didn’t like it, so, this time I don’t know whether to say ‘God is good’, but I can definitely say the ‘devil is bad’. That can also be quoted.

    “You know when you have issues like this and you are in the media and people are talking and you come to church and you want to preach and you are trying to say something that is totally not close so that nobody will misinterpret you, misrepresent you, mistranslate you; so, I decided to preach on a subject that I think I cannot be misinterpreted on. So, my subject today is food”, Dr Otabil told his congregation to laughter and applause.

    Apart from the GHS130 million debt, Mr Ato Essien is also said to have taken a loan of GHS29.9 million for some companies he was related to, and another GHS78.9 million in loans.

    The plaintiffs have asked Mr Essien to repay all the loans he took as shareholder totaling GHS580 million.

    ICGC, according to the plaintiffs, also owes GHS51.6 million being its share of a GHS482 million fund kept by the shareholders in “non-existent investments” on their books.

    A third defendant, Oheneba Osei-Akoto also took a GHS2.42 million loan in December 2016 using his residential property at Regimanuel Gray Estates at East Legon as collateral but has failed to pay back.

    The plaintiffs said these defendants are responsible for ‘serious financial loss’ at the now-defunct Capital bank.

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