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Business News of Saturday, 19 August 2017

Source: citifmonline.com

Banks collapse: BoG should’ve sent out warnings – Franklin Cudjoe

The Bank of Ghana (BoG) should, perhaps, have done more to warn shareholders of the collapsed UT and Capital banks, IMANI Africa’s President, Franklin Cudjoe has argued.

Speaking on The Big Issue, Mr. Cudjoe highlighted issues having to do with corporate governance and the need for the banking sector to adopt the practices of countries that are more open.

As it stands now, “we are at the mercy of the central bank, which isn’t forward looking, he stated.

He said the two banks were “clearly punching above their weight and overly exposed” because of certain investments that may not have been prudent.

The fallout from the collapse of the two banks indicates that the Bank of Ghana was aware these banks were struggling and only pulled the plug on them when it was clear there was no turning back from point their liabilities overwhelmed their assets.

This necessitated a Purchase and Assumption transaction to protect customer deposits as GCB Bank took over the collapsed banks’ assets.

Mr. Cudjoe, however, feels the protection of the customer could have started earlier.

“The issue of corporate governance comes to light. When did the Bank of Ghana know, in spite of some of the revelations that the writings were on the wall. How much help did the give the public so the public will know about these things and be protected?”

He conceded that the BoG did not have to disclose every bit of information but, “in this day and age, if Ghana is to become the financial hub as we really want to become, just as London is the commercial capital of the world, we probably need to start imbibing habits of very successful countries.”

As an example, Mr. Cudjoe noted that “the Bank of England actually publishes its minutes – its monetary policy committee meeting minutes. The minutes are published unedited to the extent that no Chatham House rules apply.”

“When people’s assets are supposedly under threat, it is important that they started sending signals, not to themselves at those committee levels but to some levels of the shareholders… I would have thought that to prevent these things, you would probably would be sending signals.”

Also speaking on The Big Issue, the Financial Post newspaper editor, Toma Imihere disagreed with this assertion, cautioning that it could have sealed the fate of an already struggling bank.

“When you announce a bank is in trouble, especially in this kind of economy where confidence in the banking sector is fragile among the average Ghanaian on the street, what happens – the man immediately goes to take out his money.”

“Now what it leads to is what you call run on deposits. Now the bank you are still trying to save by announcing that you trying to save the bank, effectively you are killing it.”