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Opinions of Friday, 24 August 2018

Columnist: Isaac Ato Mensah

Consolidated Bank Ghana - A poisoned chalice?

Consolidated Bank Ghana (CBG) has been born in and with scandal.

Dr Ernest Addison, the governor of the Bank of Ghana (BOG) when he announced the establishment of Consolidated Bank Ghana on 1st August stated,

‘All deposits of the five banks are safe and have been transferred to the Consolidated Bank’.

Since then some members of Parliament have asked a few serious questions about the bank.

Let us paraphrase some of them and add a few of our own.

What is the status of Consolidated Bank Ghana- a government entity or private enterprise?

On what authority are they managing the stated capital of GH¢450 million?

There is the Ghana Commercial Bank Act, Agricultural Development Bank Act, National Investment Bank Act- where is the Consolidated Bank Ghana (CBG) Act?

What is the employment status of the staff of CBG- civil servants, public servants or what?

Some persons have argued that the Bank of Ghana has powers to save the banking system and that the BOG needed to act silently and quickly in order not to cause panic among the banking population.

These arguments beg several questions because in a democracy sovereignty resides in the people.

Everybody must understand that they have to work within the due process of law.

If the argument that there would have been panic in the banking system holds, then how do we address the following questions;

1. Did the Bank of Ghana contact the registrar of companies secretly to register CBG hours before the announcement by the governor?

2. Did the registrar of companies and those who designed the corporate logo execute the registration over several days or everything was done on 1st August and if over several days, could the BOG not trust our parliamentarians to also do this in secret?

3. Was the transfer of the GH¢450 million stated capital of CBG done through the Controller and Accountant-General or the finance minister and BOG governor, sidestepped due process?

4. Was CBG established by Executive Instrument or Executive Order – in a similar fashion as the abortive renewed AMERI Energy deal and if so where is the documentation on that?

5. What would have been the need for the president to sidestep Parliament in such a move when there is evidence of years of stealing by bank officials?

We have many more questions but will pause here for now as we remind ourselves of an adage from Hawaii, ‘When the tide is out, we’ll know those who have been swimming naked’.

We shall now direct a few parting questions to the directors of Consolidated Bank Ghana.

1. Who appointed the board of directors and what is the quantum of funds which the executive directors can authorize without board approval, seeing that even their stated capital has no parliamentary approval- déjà vu?

2. If they enter into any international transaction and someone goes to court to challenge their existence and authority, who will be the “BAD PERSON” – the plaintiff or the directors of the bank?

3. When will they evaluate their actions and correct this massive unavoidable ticking time bomb of a public relations scandal?

4. Have they ever heard of the term ‘Willfully, negligently, recklessly and fraudulently causing financial loss to the state’?

5. The directors have been gifted a poisoned chalice, a crucible of scandals; a public relations nightmare.

How do they plan to handle it?

Email: ato@writersghana.com