Otabil breaks silence over Capital Bank's GH¢610m mess
Pastor Mensa Anamoah Otabil of the International Central Gospel Church (ICGC) has finally spoken since Capital Bank, where he was the Chairman of the Board of Directors, was taken over by the Bank of Ghana (BoG) – daring critics of his role in the collapsed bank.
The collapse of the Capital Bank and six other banks has set tongues wagging and already the public has started questioning the roles played by all the directors, calling for the prosecution of offenders.
Capital Bank, which was headed by the beleaguered William Ato Essien, where Pastor Otabil who was believed to be a shareholder and Chairman at the same time, after running the bank aground, was given hefty bailout by the Bank of Ghana (BoG) but it was also squandered, leading to the takeover by BoG.
Capital Bank got GH¢610 million of the taxpayer’s money in the form of liquidity support to enable the bank turn things around but the directors, led by Ato Essien, spent everything, putting customers deposits and investments in total danger.
Critics have singled out ICGC General Overseer for tongue lashing for allowing depositors’ cash to be squandered by the directors.
Unable to stand the personal attacks, Pastor Otabil, who is said to be holidaying outside the country, in a statement yesterday, said he did not want to make a comment one year after the takeover of the bank out of the respect he has for the state institutions that are investigating the issues.
He said he has answered questions posed to him by investigative bodies, including the Economic and Organized Crime Organization (EOCO) ‘faithfully’ regarding the role he might have played in the total collapse of Capital Bank.
Pastor Otabil, however, did not say he is either culpable or not, although at some point he appeared to admit tacitly that things went wrong at Capital Bank and also appeared to throw Ato Essien under the bus when he said he (Otabil) did not run the day-to-day activities of the bank which he said is the preserve of the CEO.
“I have observed with concern, the ongoing media discussions regarding developments in the banking sector and my role either directly or indirectly. I accepted to be Board Chairman of Capital Bank in a bid to help strengthen a promising Ghanaian enterprise that had potential but also challenges. I was excited about the prospects of a young man from a disadvantaged background who was daring to create opportunities and employment,” he said in the statement.
He added further that “my position was a non-executive role. I was therefore not involved in the day-to-day management and operations of the bank. In the course of time, some decisions made turned out well while some did not turn out as well as had been anticipated. As far as I can tell, everything was done with the best of intentions and the interest of various stakeholders in mind.”
According to Pastor Otabil, “My foremost concern, as has been the case over the past year, is for the wellbeing of those who lost their jobs and those who may have been adversely affected in any way as a result of these developments. My heart goes out to them and to their dependents. I continue to pray for God’s guidance and sustenance as they navigate the course of their lives.”
He said “since the takeover of the bank exactly a year ago today, various mandated state institutions have been investigating and working to arrive at a comprehensive understanding of what happened, why it happened and who was responsible for what. I have been invited by EOCO and I have submitted myself to their processes and answered all their questions faithfully.”
“For some time now, many discussion platforms have made varied references to me and to my perceived role. Some have reached out to me for clarifications regarding issues that have been raised. I have preferred not to respond in the public domain, not as an admission of guilt, but out of respect for the due process and the ongoing investigations,” he said, adding “notwithstanding some unforeseen outcomes, I remain resolute in my belief in the Ghanaian and African entrepreneurial spirit. I will therefore continue to lend my support and mentorship to inspire others who dare to dream and work towards the promise of Africa’s growth and transformation.”
He said he is a ‘believer’ in the rule of law and promised to “continue to cooperate with the mandated institutions of state as they complete their investigations.”
“I am confident that, in the process, the national interest and the rights of all parties involved will be protected.”
Banking Sector Rot
Capital Bank, together with UT Bank which had a total bailout of GH¢1.47 billion, were taken over by the BoG and given to the GCB Bank per Section 123 of the Banks and Specialised Deposit-Taking Institutions (SDIs) Act, 2016 (Act 930) August last year and another batch of five private banks namely Beige Capital, Sovereign Bank, Construction Bank, UniBank, and Royal Bank have all also been merged into Consolidated Bank Ghana Limited recently.
In the ensuing heat, critics are also calling for the arrest of the directors of the banks, as well as the BoG officials who supervised the plundering of the cash.
The current management of the Central Bank is clearing the mess it inherited from the administrations of Henry Kofi Wampah and Abdul Nashiru Issahaku.