Business News of 2013-12-06

Lawyer warns Fortiz over Merchant Bank acquisition

Senior lecturer in banking law, Moses Foh-Amoaning has advised lawyers of Fortiz to avoid actions that may be contemptuous of the court, hearing the case challenging the acquisition of Merchant Bank.
He said given the nature of the case, the lawyers must not take any action that could prejudge the case currently pending before the Commercial Division of the High Court.
The private equity firm, Fortiz which has been embroiled in the controversial acquisition of Merchant Bank is seeking an order from the High Court to dismiss a suit challenging the acquisition of the state-owned bank.
The Executive Director of the Centre for Freedom and Accuracy, Andrew Awuni has filed an application in court seeking an injunction to stop the sale which has been described by the Minority in Parliament as fraudulent.
Lawyer for Fortiz, Tony Lithur, however claims Mr. Awuni is not a contributor to SSNIT, the majority share holder in Merchant Bank and, therefore, lacks the capacity to challenge the deal.
Fortiz in a statement Wednesday announced it had completed the process of acquiring 90% stake in Merchant Bank. A statement signed by the firm's unnamed directors, said the company had begun a process of forming a strong executive team to execute the vision of shareholders.
But lawyers for Andrews Awuni say the claim of a takeover by Fortiz is prejudicial and have threatened to cite Fortiz for contempt of court.
Speaking on Joy FM’s Top Story Thursday, Moses Foh-Amoaning said “I think they [Fortiz] need to thread cautiously... This is a trust institution and the courts are very solicitous of pension funds and people acting in the trust position”.
He stated that “if I were Fortiz, I would say 'lets take our time; lets take it easy, the matter is in court lets not take any action that would prejudge the situation.”
Commenting on the Bank of Ghana's statement that it has approved the deal as claimed by Fortiz in its Wednesday's statement to the media, Mr. Foh-Amoaning indicated that it will useful to determine the role of the Central Bank in such matters because those challenging the transaction are people whose savings are at stake.
He said the approval of the Bank of Ghana is very critical because it is the supervisory agency constitutionally and statutorily mandated to regulate the banking sector.
“If they [BoG] have not given their final approval then you might even be holding a share certificate but it’s going to be useless because you can’t be involved in the banking industry without the bank’s final approval” he stressed.
Foh-Amoaning underscored the need for lawyers of Fortiz to do due diligence before pushing the case further.