…Over the skins of directors of collapsed UT and Capital banks

…As IMF chokeholds govt… and free fall of more banks and Micro Finance companies looms

A battle of wills is ongoing between the technocracy at the Bank of Ghana (BoG) and the Finance Ministry, as the sector Minister allegedly employs every trick in the book to make sure sanctions that should befall directors involved in the collapse of the UT and Capital banks are thwarted.

According to sources, Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta is suing the top brass of the BoG, which is made up of political appointees, such as the Governor, and the Board, to frustrate efforts by technocrats to make reckless former directors of the two banks pay.

The minister has allegedly resisted attempts to investigate and prosecute former directors for mismanagement, reckless borrowing and cronyism which led to the collapse of the two banks.

Sources say clear penalties that should befall some of the directors are jail terms and the confiscation of expensive properties.

Frustrated BoG technocrats are said to have been told to stand down, even though their jobs are clearly cut out for them.

Among others, the Finance Minister is believed to be applying protectionist tactics through the BoG Board because of cronies. Pastor Mensah Otabil is General Overseer of the International Central Gospel Church (ICGC), where the Finance Minister goes to church.

Mr. Ofori-Atta, who has gotten his business partner, Keli Gadzekpo, on the BoG Board, has also managed to put Mrs. Comfort Ocran, wife of ICGC Senior Pastor, Albert Ocran, on the same BoG Board.

Since the BoG made the Ghana Commercial Bank to take over the two banks last month, no transaction document of any sort, including the cost of the transaction has been made available to Ghanaians.

Sources say the non-publication of such documents is a deliberate part of Mr. Ofori-Atta’s antics to shield cronies.

If the details are published, Ghanaians will be shocked at the extent to which this government has made private debt a burden to the public, even though profits at the two banks had been privatised.

Such a publication would also give an idea about the extent of the mismanagement at the bank.

In the wake of the collapse of the two banks, information about how the writing had been on the wall but had been ignored by directors of the two banks, especially those at Capital, came up.

In the case of the Capital Bank, where Pastor Mensah Otabil was Board Chairman, then Chief Executive Officer, Dr. John Kofi Mensah, is revealed to have warned in an August 2014 memo that the bank was on a “time bomb” due to poor management by the Board.

The memo had then asked the support of the Board, chaired by Pastor Otabil, to take measures to arrest the situation but the Board did not heed.

“I regret to mention that unless we act ourselves and so with all the promptitude that it deserves, things may go out of hand, including the possibility that the Bank of Ghana may step in, by which time it will be too late for us to make excuses, with all of us risking sanctions.”

It had continued that, “the Board’s acceptance or otherwise of my proposals would go a long way to assist my interpretation of the Board’s willingness to share in my vision for the bank and its customers at large. I will certainly interpret that as a vote of no confidence in my ability to steer the bank to its destination with your respective backing and cooperation,” Dr. Kofi Mensah had written.

Mr. Kwesi Pratt’s “The Insight” newspaper, which first published the contents of the memo in 2015, was sued and forced by the bank to withdraw the story at the time. Two years down the line, the time bomb has exploded.

The collapse of Capital Bank, along with UT Bank, had come as a sudden shock to Ghanaians, even though directors had seen the misfortune coming for a long time.

In the wake of the collapse, the BoG made the publicly-owned GCB Bank, to take over the two banks.

Member of Parliament for Bolga Central, Hon. Isaac Adongo, has said the assets that GCB has taken over are toxic assets.

According to conventional knowledge, the Finance Minister had used the GCB to take over the two banks in a bid to save the investments of cronies who were directors at the two banks.

Technocrats at the BoG are said to be itching to pursue these directors to make them pay, including going after expensive properties owned by some. However, Mr. Ofori-Atta has used the BoG Board to frustrate justice.

BoG sources say these directors involved in the collapse of the two banks have no excuse because in the buildup to the collapse, the BoG had met up with them several times and given them opportunity to get their act together, all to no avail.

It is said that, in a compromise, some of the directors had been asked to contribute money that could be used to lessen the impact of the banks’ collapse on shareholders, but the directors had generally said they did not have the money, even though some of them have very expensive properties.

Pastor Mensa Otabil, for instance, is said to own mansions in the upmarket Trassaco Valley area in Accra and a 10-acre ranch at Haymarket Virginia, USA.

Sources unhappy with Ken Ofori-Atta’s shield of former directors of the defunct UT and Capital banks believe the finance minister is doing so because some of them are cronies.

In the wake of the collapse of the two banks, Mr. Ofori Atta had gone to church to mourn Pastor Otabil’s loss with him. Along with Mrs. Comfort Ocran, they are said to have prayed to God to help the pastor recoup his investments which had been a total of 51% in the names of Otabil and Associates (48%) and ICGC (3%).

Pastor Otabil would later that day use the pulpit to insult all people criticizing him over the collapse of Capital Bank as people who look like insults.

Meanwhile, The Republic has gathered that there is a free fall of banks looming in the Ghanaian financial sector. Along the collapse of these banks would be the suspension of many Micro Finance companies.

According to sources, the impending free fall is due to International Monetary Fund conditionalities under the extended program with the IMF.

According to sources, the IMF’s demand for most Ghanaian banks to be closed down is informed by a general lack of strong capital base and mismanagement, such as led to the collapse of Capital and UT banks.




Source: Samuels

The Republic News Online

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