Seize, sell Menzgold, NAM1's assets to pay clients – Ato Forson to government
The ranking member of parliament's Finance Committee, Mr Cassiel Ato Forson, has said the Akufo-Addo government must intervene in the Menzgold imbroglio by tracing, seizing and selling off all assets belonging to the gold-trading firm, as well as of its Chief Executive Officer Nana Appiah Mensah (NAM1) and all the company's managers and, in turn, using the proceeds to pay the between 700,000 and one million clients whose investments have been locked up since August this year.
The troubled gold dealership firm petitioned parliament's Finance Committee to help amicably resolve its regulatory issues with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) so it can pay all entitlements owed its clients.
In the petition dated 3 December 2018 and signed by Corporate Manager Offie Nana Yaw on behalf of the CEO, Menzgold said, inter alia that: "We humbly write to your high office to intervene and help resolve this matter amicably".
Speaking to Class FM on Friday, 21 December 2018 about the petition, Mr Ato Forson said: "The Menzgold issue is a dicey one", explaining that: "I strongly believe that the government has a responsibility to intervene".
"I strongly also believe that government's 'I-don't-care' attitude is not good enough because the government should intervene to ensure that, at least, at the minimum, the assets of the owners of Menzgold are confiscated, very much so, if possible, sell them and then defray the debt with it.
"The government cannot assume that the guy [NAM1] can commit a crime like this and go away. It's only the government that has the power of the state to be able to use the police, to be able to use the military, to be able to contact Interpol to ensure that the assets of this crime, the person who committed this crime, are brought to book…"
Asked if the government's intervention was necessary since the Bank of Ghana (BoG) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) warned the public several times against doing business with Menzgold due to regulatory concerns, Mr Forson said: "It doesn't matter that [the investors were warned]. A crime is a crime. The government warns people against rape, yet people commit rape, so that doesn't matter.
"At the end of the day, the government doesn't say because I warned you and you have been raped, I'm not going to prosecute the rapist".
In his view, the "government is running away from their responsibility, and that is a shame", adding: "I call on His Excellency the president to use the power vested in him by the Constitution of the Republic, to ensure that the perpetrators, particularly the owners of Menzgold, who have committed such a crime, are brought to book. Use the power of the state to ensure that, indeed, the resources of this crime are located wherever they are and … recovered for the purpose of using [them]".
"Assuming", he argued, "Somebody has taken GHS10million of yours, and you can recover GHS9 million, it's better to recover the GHS9 million than to say that: 'I'm not going to act at all'. I think that the government's attitude is nothing but a failure. The government has failed in this matter".
The Minority lawmaker said: "In effect, I am asking the government of the Republic of Ghana, the Chief Executive of the Republic of Ghana, who is the President of the Republic of Ghana, to act to ensure that not only is there prosecution but find where the assets are, sell them, prosecute them, and make sure that the assets are recovered in a way that the ordinary Ghanaian can get his money back.
"It is not in the bosom of the committee, it is in the bosom of the government. What am I going to do? Am I the president of the Republic, do I have the power of the state? I do not have the power of the state. I would have wished that the committee sits, but the committee is not only Ato Forson. We have a committee of 25 members largely controlled by the Majority. They have 15 members, we're 10. We sit and we have deliberations. We're going to vote on the matter … and the majority should carry the day".
Meanwhile, a circuit court in Kumasi, Ashanti Region, has ordered that some assets of Menzgold be auctioned following a writ of fi.fa filed by one Henry Darko.
The circuit court said: "Notice is hereby given that in pursuance of a decree of the said court bearing the date 14th day of November 2018 in the above suit, the property of the said defendant [Menzgold] having been seized in execution under a writ of fi.fa dated the 3rd day of December 2018, will be sold by public auction on the 16th day of January 2019 at 10 a.m., unless the said decree shall be sooner satisfied, to wit: Properties at Amankom, Ashanti Region; all personal properties in the office of Menzgold Ghana Limited, Amakom, Kumasi; and all personal properties in the office of Menzgold Ghana Limited, Patase, Kumasi".
Also, a Ghanaian-Belgian, Roger Knauf, has, through his lawyers, Clinton, Amoo Lamptey, Barnsbury Chambers, petitioned the Attorney General of Ghana, Gloria Akuffo, and copied President Nana Akufo-Addo, as well as several security agencies, to have Interpol pursue the CEO of Menzgold on his behalf as well as on the behalf of some collectivised customers of the gold-trading firm, whose investments have been locked-up at the troubled company.
Apart from the office of the president, Mr Knauf also copied the Headquarters of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service, Interpol (Ghana), the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO), the Financial Intelligence Centre, the Bank of Ghana (BoG), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Registrar-General's Department.
In the letter, Mr Knauf's lawyers said: "We write to you as the legal solicitors for Mr Roger Knauf (a Belgium and Ghanaian citizen) and on behalf of other clients about to send us signed Power of Attorney documents to represent them. We also represent some members of a group known as the 'Aggrieved customers of Menzgold'.
"Our client Mr Knauf has been swindled out of GHS 1,437,400 from Menzgold Ghana Ltd/Brew Marketing Consult Ltd and we are in the process of formally applying to the courts for the full amount owed to him and other clients, should negotiations with Mr Mensah's lawyer, Kwame Akuffo, be ineffective.
"We are aware that CID has received numerous complaints about the operations of Menzgold Ghana Ltd included complaints from our office. We are also aware of the fact that CID has referred the matter to their Financial Forensic Unit to further investigate this matter. Even if a criminal case has not been formally presented to the court, when a company is accused by the government of irregular financial activities particularly activities that affect vast members of the general public, standard protocol is to immediately freeze as many company bank accounts associated with that company (Menzgold Ghana Ltd, Brew Marketing Consult Ltd etc.); prevent the disposing of assets; prevent travel of senior associates of the companies and prevent further depletion of funds invested by the public pending a full criminal investigation.
"We are aware that no corporate bank accounts have been frozen of Menzgold/Brew Marketing Consult Ltd since September 2018, arrests have not been made despite the amount of monies involved and Interpol has not been given instruction by CID to notify Interpol globally since CID has to be given the instruction by the Attorney General's department and the Attorney General in turn given the instruction by the President's office. All major corporate bank accounts have as such allegedly been depleted since accounts have not been frozen; senior officers of the company have not been prevented from travelling or told to return; assets have not been earmarked to prevent dissipation and an unprecedented level of protection appears to have been provided to Mr Nana Appiah Mensah.
"Respectfully, the enormous personal wealth and influence of an individual is not a barrier to justice in Ghana.
"We humbly request that the Attorney General's department works with all government departments included The President's Office; CID Headquarters; Interpol (Ghana); EOCO; Financial Intelligence Centre; Bank of Ghana; Securities and Exchange Commission and the Registrar General’s Department as well as our office so a coordinated attempt can be made to preserve Menzgold Ghana Ltd/Brew Marketing Consult Ltd.'s assets; claw back money taken from Ghana; trace monies removed from the accounts in cash and coordinate with Interpol globally to claw back any remaining investors monies even whilst the criminal investigation is being conducted since this is standard protocol globally and in high profile public interest cases in Ghana.
"We also ask that your office determine whether Interpol (Ghana) should notify all Interpol offices throughout the world of the financial activities of Menzgold Ghana Ltd/ Brew Marketing Consult Ltd, and determine if Mr Nana Appiah Mensah has landed in their country (his private jet's flight manifest will confirm this).
"We ask that an extradition order is sought so that Mr Nana Appiah Mensah can be questioned as to his business activities in Ghana since his business operations took in a lot of money from the public.
"Should Mr Appiah be in any of these Interpol (branch) countries and/or own bank accounts/properties in other countries; we ask on behalf of our client (and other clients about to send us signed Power of Attorneys); that Interpol shares this information with your office so that the financial footprint of Mr Nana Appiah Mensah can be traced and his associated companies and close associates be investigated globally in order to further aid your criminal investigation. We have the resources in this country to ensure that investors monies are clawed back and directors of companies made accountable.
"Ghana upholds the rule of law in all circumstances and I trust your office has already begun a coordinated effort to ensure investors are protected. We will also be liaising with numerous international bodies to ensure that this matter is resolved to our clients' satisfaction", parts of the letter read.
Menzgold was ordered by SEC to stop its gold vault market operations in August 2018 over regulatory infractions. Since then, the company has been unable to pay its customers who are between seven thousand and one million clients, their monthly extra values (dividends) as well as their principal investments.
Just on Thursday, 20 December 2018, some aggrieved customers of the company stormed the Dzorwulu office to demand their investments just as they have been doing in previous weeks.