General News of Sunday, 15 December 2013
The sale of Merchant Bank to wholly-owned Ghanaian company, Fortiz Equity Fund, has come under severe criticism leading to the Executive Director of the Centre for Freedom and Accuracy, Mr. Andrew Awuni, filing a suit in court against the intended sale, which he believes is a breach of procedure and lacks transparency.
In the heat of reports of the proposed sale, President John Dramani Mahama was even accused of imploring Merchant bank to go easy on Engineers and Planners (E & P), a company owned by his brother, Ibrahim Mahama, which is indebted to Merchant Bank to the tune of US$38 million. A claim which government has strenuously denied.
State Pension Fund manager, Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), recently issued a statement explaining among other things, why the deal with Fortiz went through. According to SSNIT, its deal with First Rand would have nothing to do with the bank’s bad loans while that with Fortiz will see it recovering at least 30 percent of the loans as well as make moves to recover the remaining 70 percent.
Despite the explanation given, Mr. Andrew Awuni sued 13 institutions and persons, including SSNIT, Fortiz, the Bank of Ghana, KPMG and all board members of Merchant Bank who were at the centre of the sale.
But the resolve of Mr. Awuni to fight against the sale of Merchant Bank has compelled a member of the Government’s Communication machinery, Gabby Assumeng, to draw a conclusion that the Executive Director of the Centre for Freedom and Accuracy has been paid to do the bidding of the South African bank, First Rand.
Stressing on the issue, the NDC communicator averred on Okay Fm that Mr. Awuni has no right to assume the mouthpiece of SSNIT contributors, despite his being a contributor.
“….Andrew Awuni is serving his own interest; he has been paid, he is serving the interest of First Rand of South Africa. Andrew Awuni is doing the bidding of First Rand of South Africa when you take into account his persistence…his claim in court is not factual...no SSNIT contributor has appointed Andrew Awuni as a consultant to fight for them...his fight against the sale of Merchant Bank makes it possible to believe that he has been paid to do the bidding (of First Rand)”, he asserted.