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General News of Friday, 14 December 2012

Source: The Enquirer

How Akufo Addo’s Buddies Hanged bank

Official! How Akufo Addo’s Buddies, Npp Cronies Hanged Merchant Bank …Owe 81% of Merchant Bank Loans

*Many Have Refused to Pay

IT’s OFFICIAL. Key NPP Activists and financiers of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), including the brother-in-law of earmarked Akufo Addo’s Chief of Staff, Victor Newman, are among the reasons why Merchant Bank is in dire straits.

Intelligence sourced from Merchant Bank’s data indicates that majority of the non-performing loans on the bank’s books are that of active NPP activists, including notable financiers and bankrollers of the party’s flag bearer Nana Addo Danquah Akufo Addo’s campaign.

Example: Charles Mensah of Myroc Food Processing and an NPP bankroller, Hope Tamakloe of Western Steel & Forgings and brother in law of Victor Newman, together with numerous other NPP stakeholders, such as Appiah Menka, are among the top debtors who collectively owe majority of Merchant Bank’s debt portfolio, the bank’s books suggest.

NPP insiders say this is why the party provided the amount owed by Ibrahim Mahama’s Engineers and Planners but stopped short of detailing the real identities of the other debtors after publishing that of E&P at its press conference on September 25, 2012.

The press conference, which was addressed by Deputy NPP Communications Director, Yaw Buaben Asamoah, and other party officers also deliberated provided an uncompleted list of debtors, though it provided three of the amounts owed (see copy of details provided by the NPP at its press conference below).

The Enquirer can reveal that No 2 and No 3 on the non performing loans list of Merchant Bank, which the NPP deliberately withheld at its press conference and whose debt the NPP provided without the names or identities behind the companies, are two key NPP activists who are also known financiers.

Key financier of Nana Akufo Addo’ campaign, Charles Mensah’s Myroc Food Processing, owe GHc20.50 million.

No 3 on the list that indicts the Kufuor- led NPP administration and blights the chances of the opposition NPP by showing how it used partly state-owned banks to support its allies is Western Steel & Forgings Limited, which owes Merchant Bank GHc17.335 million. Hope Tamakloe, brother-in-law of Victor Newman, Akufo Addo’s long-time pal and potential Chief of Staff is the main shareholder of the company, this paper has gathered.

Celebrated NPP business man, Appiah Menka’s account , together with Apugu Limited, Prikorlar Limited and Dannex Limited were particularly singled out by the bank in 2011 as not only non-performing bad loans. They are also inactive, according to documents prepared by the bank to be sent to a subsidiary loan recovering company meant to chase the debtors to recover the loans.

In various internal memos prepared by Merchant Bank staff, including a Friday, January 28, 2011 memo, staffers of Merbank described the Appiah Menka-led group of loans as “toxic assets” and “recovery accounts which are inactive and should be managed by a proposed debt-collection company to be formed as a subsidiary of Merbank.

In simple words, the NPP top brass failed in servicing their companies’ debts so much so that the loans became more than non-performing assets. Merchant Bank actually went to sleep on these loans, allowing the loans procured under the NPP’s watch to become “inactive”.

The toxicity of the NPP-inspired debts were so serious that Merchant Bank decided that “interest on all the accounts will have to be frozen” to ensure that the bad loans do not grow in volume.

NPP insiders told this paper that fears of the NDC using the issue as a campaign against the party inspired the attack on President Mahama’s younger brother, Ibrahim Mahama, at a time he was almost about to settle his indebtedness to the Bank.

Bank sources say a negotiated settlement had been worked out between them and E&P and just when the first tranche of payment was about to hit Merchant’s account from another bank was when the NPP held its press conference and deliberately distorted the facts.

“This was a strategic plan aimed at throwing the spotlight on John Mahama and diverting attention from the main NPP debtors which would expose how we run things under the Kufuor administration. Of course, we knew Engineer and Planners’ loan was contracted in 2007 and I’m aware of how we engineered Ibrahim’s problem with the bank” a deep throat in the Akufo Addo campaign told this paper.

Other debts on the bad performing loan books of Merchant Bank include a GHc7.752 million debt by Crystal Homes Company Limited.

There were also several relatively small-loan NPP debtors, which included businessman Kingsman of Kingman Enterprise, who had almost GHc1 million (GHc 984,222) as of last year to his name.

Though some have argued that the huge number of NPP activist-owned businesses and businessmen may have secured the loans in their individual private capacities, the huge number of notably opposition activist and their sole proprietorship businesses on the list of the company’s debt portfolio has also been identified as striking.

“It was as if the bank was made to lend to certain business men with the NPP tag and a few NDC men were deliberately given loans to mask the real agenda” a well placed financier analysts who has examined Merbank’s financial books told this paper.

The list of politically non-aligned debtors on the books of the bank also includes television company, TV Africa, which owes the bank GHc5.5 million as of last year.

IT company Teledata ICT, however, came in for praise in an internal memo that noted that “apart from November and December 2010, when the Company wrote to the Bank that it could not service the monthly repayment amount of GHc18,000 due to cash flow difficulties” all repayments of Teledata have been on schedule.

The NPP-led debt amounted to GHc387.893 million as of October 31, 2010, exposing the bank and creating profitability and liquidity problems for the once buoyant Merchant Bank under the eight year watch of President J. A. Kufuor, this paper can reveal.

This is what the NPP deliberately presented at its press conference, withholding the identities and details of its sponsors and financiers

Merbank Big Debt Customers as at August 2012 No. Gross Balance GH¢ - ENGINEERS & PLANNERS CO. LIMITED 1 57,200,000

- 1 23,700,000

- 1 18,800,000