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Opinions of Sunday, 12 August 2018

Columnist: Cameron Duodu

How did Ghanaians become so ‘sikadicious’?

K1: Koo, something is happening in this country which I don't understand.

Money doesn't seem to mean anything to some people any longer.

You mean someone was able to invent something called “financial engineering”, on paper, and net 51 million cedis for himself?

Yes. It gets much worse. Have you heard about how a Savings and Loans company transformed itself into a bank called Capital Bank, with only ¢23.3m - less than 50% of the regulatory ¢60m capital requirement?

Isn't there a quote on the Internet somewhere? Yeah here it is:...

“A convinced Bank of Ghana, headed by Dr. Henry Kofi Wampah granted them a provisional licence with clear instructions to find the additional ¢36.7m and lodge it in "an escrow account which should be verified by the Bank of Ghana.”

Was that done?

Are you kidding? Capital bank shareholders only showed that they had put their monies in other financial institutions and not the escrow account they were directed to open! But somehow, BoG was satisfied with this explanation, although its own regulations do not allow that. It closed its eyes on its own rules, and did grant Capital Bank a final licence!

That's why Ace Ankomah, one of our most financially-literate lawyers, is asking the Bank of Ghana this question: “When the banking collapse started, you started giving “liquidity assistance” out to the then failing, and now failed, banks. Literally, you gave out BILLIONS of taxpayer money to the banks, primarily to meet the demands of depositors. [Next], when in 2016, contagion [became] full blown, you [BoG] got Parliament to specifically amend the Bank of Ghana Act, 2002 (Act 612) to empower you to provide this assistance to banks that had become “illiquid but solvent.” The law explained that this was “a loan to a solvent bank… that was facing temporary liquidity challenges.” It was not to apply to an already insolvent (i.e. bankrupt) bank!... And so let’s ask you some questions:

1. Did you, before providing the assistance, ascertain that the banks were still solvent but were only encountering temporary liquidity challenges?

2. Did you, in accordance with your [BoG] Act, demand collateral from the banks before providing them with the money?

3. Did you appoint any Advisors, and if so who were they, and how were the banks able to abuse the assistance? Did the Advisors approve of the abuse?

Ace Ankomah concludes: “In fact, the facts show or suggest complicity [on the part of BoG]. Officials of BOG ignored EVERY sign of trouble [as regards the insolvent banks] including their [BoG's] own 2014 and 2015 investigation and examination reports on the banks!! How??!! Absolutely unpardonable.”

K2 AH? Has the Bank of Ghana responded to these damning charges by such an influential lawyer?

K1: No! As is usual with Ghana's public bodies that don't think they should be answerable to the public, BoG has kept mum. But more facts have come to light. Apparently, BoG was also repeatedly informed by its own Supervision Department of the glaring infractions. But there is no evidence of sanctions being imposed by BoG – as it is empowered to do – on either the institution or the senior management, or the Board of Directors.

YIEEE! 610 million cedis thrown into the vaults of insolvent banks? That could finance the Senior High School programme for a whole year? Such potentially useful money just taken from our taxes and thrown away by the Bank of Ghana?

It gets even worse. A Bank of Ghana report on the collapse of the UT Bank and Capital Bank is said to have revealed that some loans granted by UT Bank were actually flagged by auditors as having “flouted” regulations with regard to prudence in bank lending. The auditors, Boulders Advisors Limited, said their review of ‘Loans Granted to Related Parties Not Connected to the UT Group’ found that there were “poor credit management practices, poor credit governance and supervision.” Four subsidiaries of Excel Courier, a company in which a prominent MP is the main shareholder, is alleged to have received an under-collateralised loan of close to GHS31 million from the bank – although the MP is regarded as “a Politically Exposed Person (PEP),” a term that suggests the loan should not have been advanced to him. And as had been previously reported in the media, Mr. Ibrahim Mahama, a businessman and brother of former President John Mahama – another “PEP” – borrowed over GHS261 million from the now-defunct bank, despite Mr. Ibrahim Mahama being classified as “a PEP.”

At an emergency Board of Directors meeting held on 20th May 2016, "the Board expressed great concern about Mr. Ibrahim Mahama's inability to meet his obligations to the Bank.” As at May 2016, his total exposure had swollen up to approximately GHS 302M and “he had made no effort to honour any of the assurances” he had previously given to the bank!

Yieeeee! 302 million cedis to one person?

That could be the budgetary allocation to a whole Ministry for one year! Dashed to “a person of influence”!

A person who did not care whether he exposed his own brother to ridicule or not!

Yes. That's what sikadiciousness has done to some people in our society.

Koo, if some of these people were poverty-stricken individuals who stole a bunch of plantains, or a sheep, or a goat or a chicken......

Ten years imprisonment without sweat.

But our bankers and their collaborators will retire to Dubai and enjoy their loot, right?

Oh, as for Dubai, it's a a bit near to Ghana. They will preferably go to Panama! Or Bermuda! Or even Malta!



We are crying but laughing?

What else can we do, bo?