Feature Article of Tuesday, 2 October 2012
Columnist: The Herald
Editor-in-Chief of the New Crusading Guide newspaper, Kweku Baako, last
Saturday, claimed that some “powerful” persons in government are behind the
linkage of President John Mahama’s half-brother to the supposed sale of
Merchant Bank to First-Rand South Africa.
“There are people driving this transaction, and who almost consummated it
and that is part of the problem… Ibrahim’s company, the E and P, its
difficulties begun under the Kufuor administration, but the problem
worsened under the NDC 3 administration, it is a fact,” Mr. Baako revealed
on News File current affairs programme on Joy FM.
Not mentioning the names of the powerful characters, Mr. Baako insisted
that some officials of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust
(SSNIT), Merchant Bank as well as some government functionaries were part
of the problems being faced by Engineers and Planners, The Herald has made
some interesting findings with respect to Mr. Ibrahim Mahama’s company and
the US$57 million loan facility.
Among the paper’s list of findings is the revelations that two prominent
New Patriotic Party (NPP) supporters- a hotelier from the Eastern Region,
whose plush hotel is located at North Ridge in Accra as well as an Ashanti
Regional patron, who is a lawyer and a businessman based in Kumasi, are
heavily indebted to Merchant Bank, than Mr. Ibrahim Mahama’s company.
This paper’s finding is that the NPP started playing politics with the
US$57 million loan facility, procured in 2007, since 2008 but not in 2012
where Yaw Buabeng Asamoah, Deputy Communication Director of the NPP, is
seeking to play SSNIT contributors against President Mahama.
The frustrations begun upon the discovery that Merchant Bank had signed a
five-year repayment agreement with the company owned by a John Mahama, who
at the time was a running-mate to Prof. John Mills.
No sooner, had the late Professor Mills selected the then Member of
Parliament (MP) for Bole-Bamboi, Mr. John Mahama in April 2008, came a call
from the management of Merchant Bank headed by Blaise Ofoe Mankwa, Board
Chairman, recalling Engineers and Planners to the bank for the agreed terms
of loan to be varied.
Instead of the five years that had already been agreed upon, Merchant Bank
forcibly pushed a 3-year repayment clause down the throat of Engineers and
Planners, else the bank would go drastic with the company for default in
settling the debt.
Insiders tell The Herald that the varying of the terms of the contract by
the management of Merchant Bank was occasioned by a shocking discovery that
Mr. Ibrahim Mahama, who at the time was busily meeting his monthly
repayment schedule without default, is a brother to the National Democratic
Congress (NDC) vice- presidential candidate.
The renegotiation of the loan payment was mainly precipitated by rumours
that Mr. Ibrahim Mahama, a man known for his generosity, had bought about
200 pickups to support the NDC 2008 campaign. Thus the variation of the
payment terms was to stifle him or collapse his business.
Many attempts were made for the bank to appreciate the strain that the
variation would cause to the Engineers and Planners, but they made little
or no sense at all to management, as a purely business transaction had
moved from that to a political victimization.
What is interesting is that Mr. Ibrahim Mahama’s late biological mother,
Madam Joyce Tamakloe, was a friend to then President Kufuor. Indeed, when
she died of cancer, President Kufuor was said to have made a generous
financial contribution towards her burial.
More interesting is the fact that one of Madam Tamakloe’s daughters, Hawa,
is married to a nephew – Kwame Agyeman – of the then Chief of staff and
Minister of Presidential Affairs, Kwadwo Okyere Mpianim.
Mr. Agyeman, is the owner of Fairlop, a company which deals in the sale of
Jaguar and Rover cars among other vehicles.
Madam Tamakloe, who is said to have raised President Mahama, never ceased
extolling Kufuor’s virtues to friends, who cared to listen until her dying
Mr. Ibrahim Mahama’s mother is also reported to be a sister to the NPP
firebrand, Dr. Nyaho-Nyaho Tamakloe. Indeed, it is claimed that due to her
closeness to President Kufuor, she became a supporter of the NPP.
Meanwhile, The Herald’s information is that President Mahama, has declined
to sell Merchant Bank to First-Rand of South Africa. The President is said
to be of the view that Ghanaians could better manage their resources given
the needed assistance.
SSNIT had announced sale of its majority interest in Merchant Bank to
First-Rand of South Africa as part of strategies to boost returns on its
The bank also announced accepting a little over 176 million Ghana cedis
from the second biggest finance group in South Africa to acquire 75 percent
of its stake.
Mr. Ibrahim Mahama’s Engineers and Planners has announced that they are
making plans to resettle the loan in the shortest possible period.
Below is what the NPP said about the President’s brother at the Press
MERCHANT BANK, SSNIT AND IBRAHIM MAHAMA’S DEBT
On Wednesday, August 22, 2012, Reuters carried a report, “FirstRand Pays
$91m for Merchant Bank Ghana Stake.” The story was that South Africa’s
FirstRand was paying 746.2 million rand (US$91m) for a 75 percent stake in
Merchant Bank Ghana to expand its presence on the continent.
The deal has the approval of Ghanaian shareholders, mainly the Government
of Ghana. Merchant Bank, one of the very few remaining Ghanaian banks, was
collapsing, reeling under some GHC330 million of loans, much of which have
been turned into bad debt.
Instructively, the report added, “The transaction also excludes some loans
on MBG’s balance sheet, which existing shareholders will acquire and
continue to collect outstanding balances.”
USING WORKERS PENSION TO SERVICE FAMILY DEBTS
Now, who are the existing shareholders of Merchant Bank who have been so
kind to the South Africans that they have decided to absolve the
non-performing loans on the bank’s books, amounting to some 50% of the
GH¢330 million? The answer is simple: SSNIT, the pension fund, owns 98% of
Merchant Bank, with SIC Life, owning the remaining 2% – a bank completely
100% owned by Ghana.
What this deal, struck under President John Dramani Mahama means is that
the suffering workers of Ghana have been forced to swallow the bad debts
incurred by some business people so that those business people can go on
enjoying their life of luxury, including flying around in their private
jets. Let me repeat, the pension of Ghanaian workers have been sacrificed
to pay off debts that they knew nothing of so that some few people could
continue having access to their privileged lives of comfort and opulence.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have provided for you in this statement, a list of
the companies whose debts have been forced down the throat of workers’
pension. Top on the list, owing 19.1% or GHC57.2m, is Engineers & Planners
Company Limited, a business owned by the junior brother of President John
Dramani Mahama. We do not wish the young, very enterprising man ill, in
fact we celebrate success. But, when your company falls into bad debt and
cannot service its loans and the pension fund of the workers of Ghana are
forced by the President, who happens to be your brother, for that pension
fund to ring fence and take on your debt, then we have to ask some serious
Merbank Big Debt Customers as at August 2012 No. Gross Balance
ENGINEERS & PLANNERS CO. LIMITED 1 57,200,000
- 1 23,700,000
- 1 18,800,000
Moreover, is it the case that the MD who signed off on the loans and was
sacked is now in the office of the President as an Advisor?
Ladies and Gentlemen, President Mahama lacks the integrity. A vote for JDM
is a vote for hopelessness for the youth and a vote for corruption. A vote
for Mahama is a vote for the sellout of our future. He has nothing to offer
to the youth.