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Business News Thu, 16 Jan 2020

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B&FT Editorial: At last, prosecutions are being made

Ever since licenses of banks and other financial institutions in the country were revoked and taxpayers’ money of around GHC20 billion were used to clean up the sector, the question that many keep asking is whether government will be able to retrieve those monies-of which are reportedly said to have been embezzled by owners and directors of the companies.

Positive news to this effect have started coming in. On Tuesday January 14, 2020, news came in that the former owners of UT and Beige Banks have been accused of stealing from their former banks. In the case of Kofi Amoabeng, founder of the defunct UT Bank, it was reported that he was accused of stealing GHC51.3million and US$8.6million, while the founder of the defunct Beige Bank, Mike Nyinaku is accused of stealing more than GHC 340million.

The Bank of Ghana has consistently assured the public that it will not relent on its efforts to bring to book those culpable for the collapse of the nine banks and the other financial institutions. And, in fact even the president of the land has said his government will ensure that no one found culpable will be spared.

“We have one case in court, and if prima facie evidence of criminality is found in the other ongoing investigations- which according to my information is likely, then perpetrators of these crises , that is both the regulators and individuals will face justice soon”, he told the media in Accra.

In all these, we must remember that innocent people are still suffering from decisions of those owners and directors-including job losses and locked up funds in those banks and other financial institutions. Therefore justice delayed is justice denied.

Also taxpayers’ money-which has many alternative uses-has been used to carry out this clean-up exercise and as such it must be recovered and used to undertake projects which will benefit the nation as a whole.

As of September 2019, which was more than a year after the collapse of the domestic banks, less than 10% of the total amount expected to be realized from loan defaulters and sale of assets of the banks has so far been retrieved.

The Bank of Ghana Governor, Dr Ernest Addison, disclosed that of the GHC10.1billion in loan defaults of the banks in receivership, only GHC849million has been retrieved. The proceeds he said were realized through loan repayments by customers, placements repaid, and proceeds from sale of vehicles, bonds, other income-interest from placements made and refund of commissions paid.

This suggests monies that went to the owners and directors’ pockets have still not been retrieved. The judiciary must expedite the process.

Source: Business & Financial Times

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