Prince Kofi Amoabeng, the businessman who set up defunct UT Bank, has broken his silence, saying he has been compelled to speak because the facts leading to the collapse of the bank are being misrepresented.
He said he maintained his silence for a number of reasons, including the fact that the Economic and Organized Crime Organization (EOCO) continues to investigate the circumstances leading to the collapse of UT Bank.
Mr Amoabeng established Unique Trust Financial Services and later turned it into a bank after acquiring Metropolitan and Allied Bank.
He later floated shares and subsequently listed on the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE), but all these resources, as well as bailout from the Bank of Ghana (BoG) went down the drain, leaving the bank heavily insolvent due to governance issues.
UT Bank alone is said to have been given over GH¢860 million by the BoG as lifeline, but still couldn’t survive the mounting bad loans granted to its customers which culminated in its eventual collapse.
According to a leaked report by a team commissioned by the BoG to investigate the collapse of UT and Capital Banks, UT Bank was heavily indebted, as companies, including those of Ibrahim Mahama, junior brother of former President John Mahama, owed the bank to the tune of over GH¢300 million.
Mr. Amoabeng, in a statement on Thursday evening said, “I have personally been deeply disturbed by events that preceded the collapse of UT bank and more so, some of the happenings that have unfolded after the takeover by the Bank of Ghana.”
“The last one year has been a very challenging period for the UT family. In truth, my heart bleeds as I struggle to come to terms with the fact that the organization we toiled so hard to build over 20 years ceases to exist. A lot has been said over the period in question,” he said.
“I feel compelled to come out at this time following widespread misrepresentation of the facts of the matter, particularly in relation to my supposed withdrawal of some GH¢5 million, which according to media reports, I failed to disclose to my board.”
He explained that “Kofi Jobs Gyebi was a client of UT Bank who secured a loan facility and subsequently paid off the loan with its accrued interest in full. Mr. Gyebi, after paying off in full to the bank, expressed interest in purchasing my personal residence at Roman Ridge in Accra, which I had put up for sale.”
Mr. Amoabeng said “due to UT Bank’s challenges at the time, I instructed that payment for the said house be made to my personal bank account at UT Bank to help shore up the company’s liquidity. I wonder then how my decision not to disclose payment of monies into my personal account for the purchase of my personal residence constitutes a misdeed as suggested by several news reports.”
According to him, “It’s instructive to note that the Boulders report, which was the source document of the said news report, indeed referenced my response to the team that interviewed me on the same matter. On page 46 of the said report, it states, “When Boulders Advisors Limited enquired about this transaction, Mr P.K. Amoabeng indicated he had sold his personal residence at Roman Ridge, Accra to Mr Kofi Jobs Gyebi.”
He said “it’s curious that the revelation was neither factored into the conclusion of the Boulders’ report nor any of the widespread media reportage.”
Turn of events
“I’m saddened by the turn of events these past few months. Our brand was guided by a vision of assisting Ghanaian businesses and individuals to achieve their aims, based on sound values, principles and discipline,” he said, adding that “we had always envisioned growing this company into a steadfast and international Ghanaian-owned company. However, in our quest to support Ghanaian businesses and individuals, the company had challenges, and the Central Bank intervened.”
He said the actions so far taken by the Central Bank “have adversely affected the operations of the remaining group of companies of UT,” adding that “the UT brand, which was previously a super brand a few years ago, has been totally defamed. The situation has, for instance, led to difficulties in the servicing of payments due investors.”
“More importantly to me today though is the inability of several workers, who once prided themselves as UT staff and now have little or nothing to show for their years of dedication and service; the negative impact on the other UT companies in the eyes of investors who believed in us and our vision to see a Ghanaian owned company become a successful global brand.”
He said he would continue to cooperate with all state agencies probing the development for “finality to be brought to this matter.”
Mr Amoabeng came under public scrutiny over the role he might have played in the total collapse of the bank.
The report had said he did not disclose the receipt of some GH¢5 million paid to him by Kofi Jobs Limited believed to be one of the companies linked to Ibrahim Mahama, which happens to be a debtor of the bank.
The bank had authorised an advance payment guarantee from Engineers and Planners, which settled Kofi Job Ltd’s indebtedness to the bank but Mr. Amoabeng is now saying that he did nothing wrong in the transaction.
The report also indicted him and his bank for breaching the ‘single obligor’ limits for Ibrahim Mahama’s connected companies of Holman Brothers, Kofi Jobs, Dzata Cement, MBG Limited and Engineers & Planners Limited.
The single obligor limit, according to the report, is the maximum amount a bank is allowed to lend a single borrower or an individual in relation to the total shareholders’ fund of that bank.
For instance, Mr. Amoabeng, who exited UT Bank, extended additional credit to Holman Brothers by pledging a $5 million placement as collateral security with Beige Savings and Loans to extend a $5 million loan to Holman Brothers during his tenure.
The report further said Mr. Amoabeng, as UT Bank boss, consistently signed investment placement deals on behalf of both the UT Bank and UT Holdings, explaining that “several deposit investments were placed with UT Holdings Limited and not recorded as liabilities and assets on the UT Bank’s books.”