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Opinions of Sunday, 17 August 2008

Columnist: Abram, Kobla

The Brutal Rape of Ghanaian Staff by Intercontinental Bank of Nigeria

Let’s all admit it; globalization is good for the poor and the rich alike, this same globalization is sending very brutal bullies and robbers across our borders into Ghana. Who said only pick pockets and arm robbers fall into the category called thieves? Corporate institutions can and sometimes do fall under this group. Bad leadership in our country has left us with a very sick economy which is attracting third rate investors into our country. We all know what happens to weak animals in the field; vultures start circling and feeding on their sick bodies even before death. The same idiomatic expression seems to be happening to our people employed by some of these banks coming into Ghana. This time around my beef is with Intercontinental Bank of Nigeria.

It seems to me this bank is forgetting one thing; in that Ghana is not Nigeria. In Ghana we treat staff with respect and honour and not disrespect. Again in Ghana we do our best to have a civil society where laws apply and work; unlike Nigeria where the law of the jungle seems to be order of the day.

What has Intercontinental done to tick me off I hear you ask? Let me tell you then. This third rated institution is operating like the Mafia in Ghana; where staff are being bullied and denied their rights and for the purpose of this write up I will limit them two wrongful acts by Intercontinental Bank in Ghana in particular and one general act being encouraged by these banks flooding our shores.

Firstly Intercontinental bank has been suspending and in some cases firing staff unfairly for no crime. This illegal act comes about when loans go bad i.e. creditors fail to pay up. Not senior managers get into trouble when loans go bad; but the junior personal do. Let me explain with real life example, the names used in this example is fictitious. Personnel working at the bank go to sell loan products clients as part of the sales chores. The clients fill out the forms, and sent to the bank personnel who made the sale, they undertake their required paper work and pass it on to a line manager. The manager does what is required and sends the application to credit risk to do their bit then sent on senior managers. After two weeks senior managers approve the loan for the client. Finally legal department prepares the paper work and the deal is completed, then money paid out. Fast forward six months, its all been well till some time in the future when the client falls on hard time therefore can not keep up with the loan payments. No matter how best the bank personnel who sold the loan tries to help the client with restructuring, legal threats etc the client cannot or will not make payments as agreed in the loan contract. Finally the client quits paying the loan.

In any well meaning company the legal department and credit control will do the chasing of the said client, but at Intercontinental this is not the case, but rather the sales agent who sold the loan is held fully responsible for none payment by clients. When this happen the bank personnel who sold the loan is sent on suspension WITHOUT PAY till they pay off the loan personally or manage to track the customer and convince them to pay up. The managers, credit control and legal staff do not suffer any sanction. Not forgetting they take home the fattest pay, allowances and almost all the performance bonuses. This is such an abuse by the bank, yet our Ghanaian authorities who have been alerted to such abuses sit idle. Why should junior staff most of whom are fresh university and SSS graduates with no work experience what so ever and very little training from the bank in the first place be held responsible; for something that was approved by senior management based on feed back from risk assessment and credit control departments? Not to mention sanctioned by their legal department? Meanwhile suspended staff are not allowed to take up employment elsewhere and threatened with legal action should they attempt to find a new job. Why should the middle and senior management not be held responsible for the bad loan, after all they made all the decisions, junior staff only make an introduction between the client and the bank? After all they approved it and they enjoy the big pay and perks given by the company and not the junior staff.

It’s only in Ghana, that people from other countries solely here to make money by every legal and illegal means are allowed to treat our citizens like trash. Intercontinental and other such banks are not here to help build Ghana; they are here for their own survival not Ghana’s development. They are here solely to reap and rape us, period.

My second point of anger is that knowing very well its acts are illegal the bank is not allowing staff to form or join a trade union. Anyone who tries it does get sacked. In Ghana no worker needs management permission to form a union, but then the climate of fear within Intercontinental is preventing staff from breaking the mould.

The other general act being encouraged by these banks flooding our shores; is openly encouraging and at time bullying female staff to go sell their body to win accounts. When managers tell staff openly without respect that “Go out and win accounts with your assets, your nice body or the one fruit a man wants” then I have a big problem with that. If staff want to engage in sex with clients that’s the will and right as adults, but it should not be an unwritten job requirement.

I urge Ghanaians to act, let’s start with Intercontinental Bank in Ghana. We should all move our accounts elsewhere to Ghanaian owned banks, till these foreign banks start behaving after all there is competition out there. I will appeal to corporate clients such as Zoom Lion and Keysens Distribution to move their accounts and business from the bank. They should not be scared of loosing a credit line; their turnover is huge enough any bank n Ghana will roll out the red carpet to accommodate them. These corporate bosses should remember it could be their daughters and loved one being abused in such a manner by Intercontinental. Moving your businesses away will make them sit up. Worse case scenario, if the bank fails and closes down in Ghana other banks will absorb the workers due to expansion from all the ex customers from a failed Intercontinental to be gained. Ghana is bigger then Intercontinental and their likes, we can survive when such an uncouth institution goes burst in Ghana. The bank of Ghana does not have just a legal duty to supervise financial dealings; it also has moral duty to penalize those falling outside the realms of civility within the financial sector and must be seen to do so. I will also urge our TUC and other labour movements, Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Kwesi Pratt of the CJA and the likes of Nana Oye to help restore the rights and dignity of our brothers, sisters, wives, dads, mums, partners, lovers etc working with this monster rapist called INTERCONTINENTAL BANK, GHANA.

Next up will be other banks behaving badly; if they wish to do business in Ghana then please behave. Ghana is not Lagos; where the law of the jungle seems to be the norm. I shall be watching closely as a one man crusader exposing the rot of the banks.

Kobla Abram kobabram@gmail.com