General News of 2013-12-04

NPP wants Mahama’s role in E&P/Merchant saga investigated

Minority Members on Parliament’s Judicial Committee are demanding an inquiry into President John Mahama’s alleged intervention in Merchant Bank’s recovery of a debt owed by his brother’s company, Engineers and Planners.
Their call comes after it emerged that officials of Merchant Bank were questioned by President Mahama as they attempted to recover a debt of 38 million dollars from Engineers and Planners.
Following a petition by the lawyer for Engineers and Planners, Tony Lithur, the president demanded an explanation from the Board of Merchant Bank on their loan recovery activities, especially in respect of Engineers and Planners.
The Board in a letter to the president described Engineers and Planners' debt as too substantial and had to be recovered. The letter said the debt constituted 30 percent of its 50 percent non-performing loan portfolio.
This action by the president, the Minority insists, placed him in a conflict of interest situation.
But Information Minister, Mahama Ayariga has dismissed such suggestions arguing that President Mahama only gave a hearing to the petition by lawyers of E&P.
A member of the Minority on the committee, Ben Abdallah Banda in an interview with Joy News’ parliamentary correspondent, Elton John Brobbey maintained there was the need for a parliamentary inquiry into the matter.
He said given President Mahama’s overwhelming influence over the board of Merchant Bank, his action smacks of conflict of interest.
Conceding that there was nothing wrong with Ibrahim Mahama's company acquiring a loan from Merchant Bank, Abdallah Banda noted that the president’s involvement makes the issue murkier.
He wondered why Merchant Bank did not sell off some of the assets of E&P to defray the debt when the company failed to honour the terms of the loan agreement.
He said the president should have known better.
Ben Abdallah Banda urged Parliament to exercise its constitutional function of holding the executive accountable by probing the conduct of the president.
Meanwhile, Deputy Minority leader, Dominic Nitiwul hinted they would be petitioning the Commission on Human Right and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) over the issue.
“This is a serious conflict of interest issue and the president has a lot to answer”, he added.