The Bank of Ghana was told by officialdom to collapse Seidu Agongo’s Heritage Bank Limited, the founder and CEO of the now-defunct UT Bank, Mr Prince Kofi Amoabeng, has said.
Mr Amoabeng, whose bank was also collapsed in the first term of the Akufo-Addo government, told Nana Otu Darko on CTV’s morning show, Dwabre Mu, on Tuesday, 4 October 2022: “I was pained by the collapse of Heritage Bank because it was young”.
“The Bank of Ghana had issued a licence to Heritage Bank and Heritage Bank had not operated for long and, so, unlike UT Bank, it had no bad loans or anything and it was a wholly-owned Ghanaian company that we had to nurture to grow”, he explained.
“Secondly, the owners of Heritage Bank found it fit to appoint a solid board”, he noted, adding: “I mean, the chairman was [Prof] Kwesi Botchwey. When it comes to finance in this country, he is the safest hands you can get; he’s seen it all”.
“As chairman, the board members run the bank, not the owner, so, I don’t know Seidu Agongo – as I told you, I haven’t met him before – but I know Kwesi Botchwey and I know his track record. So, if you have a bank that hasn’t got any baggage, it’s fresh and it’s got a board headed by Kwesi Botchwey, then it means its closure was a worse decision than UT Bank”, he further noted.
“As for UT Bank, we owed and they could have bailed [us out] but decided not to bail; that’s an option. That is why I mention that Heritage Bank, for example, was collapsed out of sheer wickedness”, he added.
Mr Amoabeng observed that the “unfortunately thing is the Bank of Ghana is supposed to be independent but I don’t think they were independent with their decision on Heritage Bank because, if they were independent, why do you issue a licence and withdraw it”
“When you were issuing the licence, didn’t you know the owners and the board?” he asked.
“It means they were told to withdraw the licence”, he deducted.
“And it’s not a fair way but it’s another dangerous path that Ghana has taken”, he regretted, noting: “Every institution has been politicised including even the army”.
“And that is why I am saying that for Heritage Bank, the institution that is supposed to be independent of the government, even though in principle, issues a licence and then withdraws that licence when the company hasn’t even done anything wrong”, Mr Amoabeng added.
Mr Amoabeng made similar comments a couple of years ago saying he found it “extremely odd” for the Bank of Ghana to have collapsed Heritage Bank Limited, which had no bad loans on its books and was being run by the “right people” within the industry.
In his view, the revocation of the licence of the Ghanaian-owned bank, whose founder, Mr Seidu Agongo, has always argued was above board, as far as its books were concerned, was not only politically motivated but also “extremely unfair and unfortunate”.
Asked directly by TV3’s Paa Kwesi Asare in an interview on Business Focus: ‘Do you think, as many think, that some of the decision to close down certain banks was politically motivated?’ Mr Amoabeng answered: “A few of them; specifically Heritage Bank”.
“I don’t understand the issue because the Chairman of the Board is Dr Kwesi Botchwey. I have a lot of respect for him when it comes to finance in this country and managing Boards and he will not, in my estimation, ever accept to be Chairman of a bank that is not right and dealing in all sorts of things. I can say that for him”, Mr Amoabeng, whose bank was also among the nine Ghanaian banks that were collapsed in the central bank’s financial clean-up exercise during President Nana Akufo-Addo’s first term of office, noted.
“So”, Mr Amoabeng noted: “I find it extremely odd that a bank – and it had not started doing business for it to have bad loans and all those things – and for you to say that the owner didn’t have what it takes [doesn’t meet the fit-and-proper criterion] or however they put it, I mean the owner doesn’t run the bank, he’s a Ghanaian, he’s got the money, he’s appointed the right people to run the bank for him, so, what is the excuse?”
“I find that extremely, extremely unfair”, Mr Amoabeng asserted, adding: “Maybe I don’t have all the facts, but from where I stand, I find it really unfortunate”.
The Bank of Ghana revoked Heritage Bank’s licence on Friday, 4 January 2019 on the basis that Mr Agongo, the majority shareholder, among other things, used proceeds realised from alleged fraudulent contracts he executed for the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), for which he has been facing prosecution together with former COCOBOD CEO Stephen Opuni, for the past four years.
Announcing the withdrawal of the licence, the Governor of the central bank, Dr Ernest Addison, told journalists – when asked if he did not deem the action as premature, since the COCOBOD case was still in court – that: “The issue of Heritage Bank, I wanted to get into the law with you, I don’t know if I should, but we don’t need the court’s decision to take the decisions that we have taken. We have to be sure of the sources of capital to license a bank; if we have any doubt, if we feel that it’s suspicious, just on the basis of that, we find that that is not acceptable as capital. We don’t need the court to decide for us whether anybody is ‘fit and proper’, just being involved in a case that involves a criminal procedure makes you not fit and proper”.
However, Mr Agongo responded with a press statement in which he said that the “not fit and proper” tag stamped on him by the central bank was “capricious, arrogant, malicious and in bad faith”.
According to Mr Agongo, “In purportedly making the determination, the central bank obviously had little regard for the time-honoured principle that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction”, adding that: “The fact that I have a case pending before the High Court is a matter of public knowledge but my guilt or innocence is yet to be determined by the Honourable Court”.
“The determination that I am not a fit and proper person to be a significant shareholder of HBL because the central bank suspects the funds are derived from illicit or suspicious contracts with Cocobod is not only calculated to pre-judge the outcome of the criminal proceedings but also violative of the principle of presumption of innocence to which every individual is entitled. Since when has suspicion become a substitute for credible evidence?” Mr Agongo asked.
Also, the erstwhile Prof Botchwey Board issued a statement on the matter in which it said: “Heritage Bank was by the Bank of Ghana’s own admission, a solvent bank. It never received liquidity support from the Bank of Ghana. Its corporate governance record had never been impugned by the Bank of Ghana. We believe we have been done a grave injustice and a terrible precedent set that does not bode well for the future”
Global Citizen Festival raises $2.4 Billion to end extreme poverty
Pledges totalling $2.4billion were announced as part of activities to mark the Global Citizen Festival in New York City and Accra on Saturday, September 24, 2022.
Key commitments were announced to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the festival’s impact and advocacy, through the hard work of many partner organizations.
A statement issued by Global Citizen said the 2022 Festival saw “more than US$800 million announced to end extreme poverty NOW and US$1.6 billion announced by the European Commission and Canada as part of the seventh replenishment of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria on Sept. 21, in addition to the announcement of five companies signing on to the UN-led Race to Zero initiative to reach net-zero emissions by 2050”.
Of this funding, more than US$440 million was earmarked exclusively to initiatives to end extreme poverty on the African continent, with the remainder intended to reach people around the world, including across Africa.
The Global Citizen Festival campaign announced commitments by world leaders and governments in support of ending poverty now, including Canada, Belgium, Denmark, the European Commission, Germany, Ghana, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, United Nations, and the United States.
From around the world, messages of support for Global Citizen’s End Extreme Poverty NOW campaign were received by President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, President of France Emmanuel Macron, Prime Minister of Spain Pedro Sánchez, COP27 Youth Envoy Dr. Omnia el Omrani, Taoiseach of Ireland Micheál Martin, Dr. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros, COP26 President Alok Sharma, Former Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon, US Rep. Jamie Raskin, US Rep. Ann Wagner, and US Rep. John Curtis.
Financial and policy announcements were also made by many corporate, philanthropic, and NGO partners including Accenture, Cisco, Citi, Delta, the Dutch Postcode Lottery, Ford Foundation, Gavi and Girl Effect, the Global Menstrual Equity Hygiene Accelerator, Lego Foundation, Procter & Gamble, Rotary International, Verizon, WWT, YouTube and Google.org.
“Amidst all the doomsday messages we hear today, hope lies in the fact that millions of citizens are rising up to take action, more than any other point in history. 10 years ago, Global Citizen was just an idea – and 10 years from now we’ll see a generation of Global Citizens running for office, starting companies, and transforming communities,” said Hugh Evans, Co-Founder and CEO, Global Citizen.
In support of the Global Citizen campaign to defend the planet and take climate action NOW, five businesses officially signed on to the Race to Zero campaign to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 as a part of Global Citizen Festival, including American Eagle Outfitters, Betterfly, Harith General Partners, Juan Valdez Café, and WWT.
Global Citizens have taken more than 2 million actions with Global Citizen in 2022 to help achieve Global Citizen’s mission to End Extreme Poverty NOW, more than doubling the record previously set by the international advocacy organization.
“With 43 days to go to COP, we need countries to move from pledges to implementation — as youth we have a critical role to play in making sure our nations do not backtrack on their promises,” said Dr. Omnia el Omrani, COP27 youth envoy, in a video message to Global Citizens at Global Citizen Festival.
With stages in Accra and New York, the event captured the Global Citizen ethos, channelling an eclectic array of musical talent in support of our efforts to End Extreme Poverty NOW and build momentum ahead of the G20 summit and UN Climate Conference, COP27, both in November.
BOST profit: State-owned enterprises can deliver value with right leadership – NAPO
Minister of Energy, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, has commended the Bulk Oil Storage and Distribution Company Limited (BOST) for the turnaround in its operational and revenue fortunes.
This comes on the back of the state-owned firm, increasing its profits to GH¢161million in 2021 after it recorded a loss of GH¢291 million in 2020.
Speaking at the first Annual General Meeting of the company, Dr. Opoku Prempeh said the development demonstrates that state-owned enterprises can deliver value through the right leadership and management to boost national development.
“The transformation is indeed massive, as evidenced in improved operational efficiency. This is the path to go if we should attain the path of State-Owned Enterprises contributing to the fiscal policy of government for its national growth and development agenda. Imagine if 100 SOEs each made GH¢150million net income,” Dr. Opoku Prempeh said.
The Minister disclosed that the improvement in BOST’s revenue was due to a core business strategy and an increase in petrol and diesel sales revenue of about 83 percent.
He added that an amount of US$611 million paid from the US$624 million debt accumulated in 2017 was generated from BOST’s internally generated funds.
The sector minister also lauded the management of the state-owned firm for the effective utilisation of revenue generated from the nine pesewas BOST margin on petroleum products.
He explained that proceeds from the petroleum levy were used to undertake renovation and repair works on fuel depots, decommissioning of tanks, revamping four river barges for fuel transportation on the Volta Lake, and the upgrade of the Akosombo jetty.
“The rest are upgrade and replacement of loading arms, pumps and valves across all the depots at Buipe-Bolgatanga-Petroleum-Product-Pipeline; Tema-Akosombo-Petroleum Product-Pipeline; and Bolgatanga Petroleum Export Depot among others.”
He continued, “Comparing figures, I also saw BOST reducing its administrative expenses from as high as GH¢538 million in 2016 with a staff strength of 349 to GH¢212 million in the year 2021 with a staff strength of 487.
The energy minister also commended BOST for deploying cost-cutting measures in its operations.
“Genuine administrative costs grow upward and not downward due to factors like inflation among others but I would like to commend management for the prudence that resulted in these massive reductions in the cost of operations.
The company is spending less while achieving more for the government and people of Ghana; from the face of the record, this is an impressive performance that the company’s board and management need to be commended for,” the energy minister stated.
Dr. Opoku Prempeh in his concluding remarks reaffirmed BOST of government’s commitment to make the entity an effective and profitable one.
“I am aware of recent developments in the mass media on BOST, but I am also aware of the political economy around operations of the company. Government is also aware of the turf-war to get the company derailed, and we are not falling for those who seek to engage the reverse button,” he emphasised.
Silver Star loses benz dealership deal in Ghana
Silver Star Auto Limited, a popular automobile firm in Ghana has lost its deal as the authorized distributors of Mercedes benz in Ghana.
A Press Statement issued on Thursday, September 15, 2022 by the Company said Mercedes Benz Germany has decided to engage a new multinational dealer for the Ghanaian and West African market at large albeit leading the market share by far in Ghana for luxury vehicles.
“We have tried our level best to make a case with Mercedes-Benz in Germany without luck, all appeals failed to have produce any response from them leaving us no choice but to seek redress from the courts,” the company said in its statement.
Despite the separation, SSAL assured its customers that it will still remain an independent trusted partner for Mercedes-Benz advice, support, and aftersales service.
Below is the full statement
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- England defender Harry Maguire gets roasted in Ghanaian parliament (Video) December 4, 2022
- Ghana vs Switzerland (2-0) Full Highlights Goals, Pre-Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup Friendly Match (Video) November 18, 2022
- StorONE is transforming software-defined storage November 17, 2022
- ICANN Boost Africa Internet Access with New Root Server November 17, 2022
- Parliament to begin implementing no scanning, no entry directive today November 17, 2022
- PIAC, GNPC expected at Ofori-Atta censure hearing today November 17, 2022
- Public university workers remain on strike after continued stalemate November 17, 2022
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