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General News Sat, 30 Nov 2013

Nitiwul fingers Mahama's lawyer in Fortiz deal

Deputy Minority Leader Dominic Nitiwul has called on President John Mahama to quickly order a stop to the sale of Merchant Bank because it is murky and stained with "conflict of interest."

Nitiwul cannot understand how Fortiz Equity Fund said to be Ghanaian owned somehow won the bid to buy majority shares in Merchant Bank when UT Bank also fully Ghanaian owned and other banks presented a better bid.

He said nothing other than conflict of interest can make Fortiz win the bid with 90 million cedis for 90 per cent Merchant Bank shares when First Rand, a South African bank had presented a better bid of 190 million cedis for 75 per cent shares.

Discussing the controversial Fortiz takeover of Merchant Bank on Joy FM's Newsfile programme, Nitiwul said the over bearing presence of the president's lawyer in all these transactions cannot be treated as a mere coincidence.

Even though he did not mention the name of the Lawyer in question, he intimated the Lawyer is lead Counsel for Engineers and Planners- the highest debtor to Merchant Bank.

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That same Lawyer he noted is the lead counsel for Fortiz who are in pole position to buy the debt ridden Merchant Bank.

Tony Lithur was President John Mahama's lawyer in the 2012 election petition and is lawyer to Engineers and Planners - a company owned by Ibrahim Mahama, brother to the president and is also the lead lawyer for Fortiz.

Nitiwul said it is curious that Engineers and Planners have since 2009, stopped paying their debts to Merchant Bank, and somehow their lawyer is advising another Bank- Fortiz- to buy Merchant Bank at a lower cost.

According to him, per the Fortiz deal only 30 per cent of debts owed Merchant Bank would be collected with the remaining 70 per cent considered a bad debt.

"The lawyer for the president himself is the same lawyer for his brother's company, is the same lawyer for the company seeking to buy Merchant Bank.

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"The second point is that fact the brother is the highest debtor to [Merchant Bank], morally and for his own image he should reassess that matter because when Fortiz buys it says it will only collect 30 per cent of the debt owed Merchant Bank," he alleged.

"We all know the Directors of Fortiz. They are all NDC. He [president]should put a stop to the sale," Nitiwul stated.

Dr Clement Apaak who was also on the show vehemently objected the claims by Nitiwul.

He said the President's lawyer is a private legal practitioner and has every right to offer his services to anybody seeking it.

He said instead of kicking against the Fortiz deal, critics should embrace it because it is indigenous.

Source: Myjoyonline.com