DATABANK’S STRANGLEHOLD TIGHTENS ON GOV’T

…As Keli Gadzekpo’s sister-in-law also gets a piece of the actio

As it becomes clearer and clearer that President Akufo-Addo’s government is hegemonic, the personality punctuations beyond the ‘Akuffo’ and ‘Ofori-Atta’ blue-bloods have begun to smile on the Gadzekpos.

‘Emperor’ Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is not an ingrate and so ‘Akuffocracy’ – government of the Akuffos, by the Akuffos and for the Akuffos,’ has made room for a member of the ruling family’s circle of friends.

Mrs. Lynn Allotey Gadzekpo, who was appointed a Board member of the National Investment Bank (NIB) by President Akufo-Addo, is said to be the sister-in-law of Keli Gadzekpo, co-founder of Databank.

Last Thursday, Mrs. Allotey Gadzekpo was sworn in, together with seven other members, to make up an eight-member Board for the NIB.

Since the appointment, many observers have not failed to view the selection as a further tainting of the Akufo-Addo government with one-too-many people connected with Databank – given Mrs. Gadzekpo’s family connection to Keli Gadzekpo.

Already Mr. Gadzekpo, himself, is a Board Member of the Bank of Ghana, a position that is seen as an appeasement by Akufo-Addo, after the President had chosen Dr. Ernest Addison, brother of his lawyer friend, Philip Addison, over Mr. Gadzekpo for the BoG Governorship job.

The same Keli Gadzekpo is rumoured to have been penciled for the Board Chairmanship of the Electricity Company of Ghana, as the rich banker, believed to be worth some $235million in personal wealth, is also the CEO of Enterprise Group, a company he co-operates with the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta.

Meanwhile, as Keli Gadzekpo taints the BoG Board as a Databank contaminant, his business partner, Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, who is a direct cousin of President Akufo-Addo, is said to have replaced as many as eight senior civil servants at the Finance Ministry with Databank staff.

It is with such a tainting of the GoG’s financial administration apparatus with Databank that Keli Gadzekpo’s sister-in-law, Lynn Allotey Gadzekpo, has also been appointed onto the Board of the NIB.

Interestingly, the new eight- member Board of the NIB is chaired by Togbe Afede XIV, the Agbogbomefia of the Asogli State and President of the National House of Chiefs. Known in private life as James Akpo, Togbe Afede is one of the co-founders of Databank.

In 1990, the high profile Togbe, whose appointment as Board Chair of NIB by President Akufo-Addo is a renewal of the same position he had occupied under former President Mahama, had partnered with Ken Ofori-Atta, Keli Gadzekpo and the late Daniel Ofori-Atta to found Databank.

Many observers see Togbe Afede’s maintenance as NIB Board Chair by President Akufo-Addo as something that is in step with Nana’s show of gratitude to his friends, especially those from Databank.

That bank had been a financial backbone to Nana’s Presidential ambition which had remained a pipedream from 1992 until he was third-time-lucky with his shot at the Presidency in 2016.

In 2008, the first time Akufo-Addo ran for President on the ticket of the ruling NPP, it was said that Databank had managed some $47million that was splurged on his campaign, even though he was not successful.

Togbe Afede, who is co-founder of Databank and now Board Chairman of the NIB, is also the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Strategic African Securities (SAS).

A banking, securities and investment management firm, SAS is one of four underwriters of the scandal-prone $2.25 billion bond that Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, had sold to Franklin Templeton in March, this year.

The so- called Kenbond scandal entailed the sale of the bond without Parliamentary and Cabinet approvals.

It is currently being investigated by the Securities and Exchanges Commission of the US and the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) of Ghana, for possible conflict of interest.  FT which got to buy 95% of Ken Ofori Atta’s bonds is also an employer of Mr. Ofori Atta’s business partner, Trevor Trefgarne.

That same bond sale had not been cleared by the Attorney General and the Securities and Exchanges Commission of Ghana.

With the Akufo-Addo government, mainly made up of family and friends, recently using the Ghana Commercial Bank to acquire two collapsed banks – UT and Capital – the BoG, which instigated and supervised the acquisition, has since come under a stench of suspicion that it did so to bail out cronies of the government.

It is this same BoG’s Board, which is tainted with Keli Gadzekpo from Databank. But that taint, just last week, spread to the NIB when his sister-in-law was appointed as a Board member under a Chairman who is a co-founder of the same Databank.

Meanwhile, there are hints that the Akufo-Addo government will soon collapse the NIB into the GCB Bank.

Prior to last Thursday’s appointment of the NIB Board, national broadsheet, Daily Graphic, had reported in July, that high  level consultations between the shareholders of both the NIB and the GCB concerning a possible takeover had begun.

According to the paper, the discussion had been instigated by government –common shareholder of both banks – and a discussion had begun on a merger planned for consummation at the end of this year.

Such a merger, according to Graphic, is agreeable to both Boards of the banks involved, as it would make the GCB Bank the biggest bank in the country with assets in excess of Ghc10billion, along with some 250 branches and 2,000 employees.

“Preliminary discussions on a possible takeover had begun at the boards level between the two banks and are expected to prepare the grounds for a deal later in the year.”

It has since become clear that at the time that the paper published the story, the NIB’s Board was not in place, as the Board was only appointed last Thursday.

Consequently, the hint is that the NPP government may be trying to use monkey tricks to dissolve the NIB into GCB Bank, whose majority shareholders are SSNIT, COCOBOD and Ghana Reinsurance Co.

The government, undertaking similar questionable actions, has already borrowed Ghc900million from the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) and the Universal Merchant Bank (UMB) without approval by Boards of the two banks.

The money, Ghc450million each from the two banks, was milked off by the NPP government for investment into its campaign promises, including the one district, 0ne factory, and the Planting for Food and Jobs Program.

The same GCB, which appears to be coveting the state-owned lender, NIB, last week, acquired the collapsed UT Bank and Capital Bank.

The acquisition was said to have been without proper recourse to shareholders, including SSNIT, which has invested workers’ pensions in that bank.

Hon. Isaac Adongo, MP for Bolga Central, has since said the acquisition of the two collapsed private banks is imprudent because the acquisitions are toxic assets.

As a Databank tainted BoG had led the acquisition of these “toxic assets” without recourse to anybody, observers are on the lookout at the NIB, where, a Board similarly tainted with Databank is in charge.

After recently acquiring the toxic private assets (UT and Capital), it is expected that the GCB Bank will make moves to recover from the toxic impact, and NIB, could be a good balancing act.

Already, the hint is that the bank will be acquired at the end of the year. A Databank tainted Board coming into place only serves to forecast that the GCB’s acquisition of NIB will be a cakewalk.

 

Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/ Fiifi Samuels

 

The Republic News Online

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