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Business News of Friday, 25 November 2016

Source: B&FT

BOG asks Apex Bank MD to proceed on leave

The Bank of Ghana has directed embattled Managing Director of the ARB Apex Bank, Kwadwo Aye Kusi, to proceed on leave, effective Monday, November 28, 2016, the B&FT has gathered.

A letter from the central bank, citied by the B&FT, said it received a complaint lodged by the local workers’ union of ARB Apex Bank and a petition filed by a member of staff against the Managing Director, which cite issues of bad corporate governance, disregard of the banks policies, and financial malfeasance, which could affect operations of the bank.

“Consequently, Management of Bank of Ghana has tasked the Financial Stability Department to conduct investigations into the aforementioned,” the letter, signed by Francis F. Blankson, Acting Head of the Financial Stability Department at the Bank of Ghana, said.

It adds that: “investigations to ascertain the truth or otherwise of the allegations are ongoing and are expected to cover the period 21 November to December 2, 2016.”

The central bank said its team of investigators will call randomly on Directors, Management and Staff of ARB Apex Bank to clarify issues.

The BoG urged that a “calm working atmosphere” should prevail at the bank while the team assesses the grounds for the complaints made and take responses and explanations.

“For unfettered access to documents and information, it is required that the subject of investigation (Managing Director) stay out of the office.”

Consequently, the Managing Director has been directed to proceed on his outstanding leave effective Monday November 28, 2016, until investigations are completed.

The outcome of the investigations, the BoG said, will be communicated to all stakeholders in due course.

Recently, the National Union of Industry, Commerce and Finance Workers (UNICOF), called on the central bank not to renew the term of office of Kwadwo Aye Kusi, who came under EOCO investigations last year regarding some procurement irregularities.

A statement from UNICOF, copied to the B&FT, declared two days of red-alert by all staff of the bank which regulates rural banks in Ghana, across the country.

In view of this, members of the union across the country have been directed to have a red piece of material hanged around their necks or wrists.

“The red has become necessary to let stakeholders understand that the UNICOF and staff are not happy about the events at the bank.

The autocratic nature of the board chairman and his personal relationship with the MD are affecting the governance of the bank. A split board that appointed the MD will affect the progress of the bank.”

Whilst asking that the central bank makes public the Economic and Organised Crime Office (ECOCO) findings, the union also wanted an “independent investigation” into some allegations made against Mr. Kwadwo Aye Kusi, in a petition sent to the Board of Directors dated July 25, 2016, and signed by one George Essien (CFE) of the bank.

The 15-page petition, copied to Governor of the Bank of Ghana and the Finance Minister, alleged that the MD had, over the years, acted in bad faith and utter disregard for procedures, board directives and the L.I. 1825 (ARB APEX BANK LIMITED REGULATION 2006).

General Secretary of the union, John Amegashie, told the B&FT that the MD “has caused the bank to lose several millions of cedis,” adding that once his term has ended he must be made to go.

“Because he has the backing of the board chairman he does not respect anyone but we are going to petition the board by close of Wednesday and ask that he is mandate is not renewed,” John Amegashie said.

“We are also asking for the report conducted by the economic and organized crime office on many actions taken by the Managing Director in 2015. We have already petitioned the central bank as a union,” he stated.

Meanwhile the B&FT has gathered that a section of the bank’s board, during a board meeting on Wednesday November 23, 2016, threatened to have the MD’s appointment terminated if he did not resign honorably.

This, B&FT sources say, Mr. Kusi finally got to agree to resign from the bank but pleaded for two weeks to clear his name of the allegations levelled against him by the workers union something the board hesitantly approved of.