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Opinions Sun, 29 Sep 2019

Ato Essien should apologise to taxpayers instead of seeking public sympathy

Mr. Ato Essien, former manager of the defunct Capital Bank (CB) is in no place to implore the sympathy of Ghanaians for a supposed scam he tactfully planned and executed.

On the contrary, he should take advantage of the media interaction he’s receiving to render an unqualified apology to Ghanaians for the many jobs lost, the misappropriation of the taxpayers’ money and the loss of confidence in the financial sector.

Rather than blaming the Bank of Ghana (BoG) for terminating a profitable venture, he must bow his head in shame and applaud the BoG for being intelligent enough to identify CB as an avenue to loot Ghanaians.

A confidential report received from an independent audit firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers Ghana Limited (PwC) details cases of high-level fraud and irregularities that characterized the operations of CB. The first of these scams was the presentation of falsified investment certificates to obtain a class 1 banking license in 2013 which were later classified as non-existent placements.

The falsehood on which CB was formed is enough evidence to show an intelligent ploy to dupe Ghanaians. In response to Mr. Essien’s claim that CB was profitable as at when its license was revoked, he needn’t be reminded that as at 31st December 2015, CB had a cumulative amount of approximately GH¢ 482 million as non-existent investments.

The same non-existing investments which made the management of CB (of which he was a part), write to BoG to request that the amount be converted into shareholders’ loans. BoG in a letter dated 3rd June 2016, granted approval to the request made by CB for the non-existent investment of GH¢ 482 million to be structured into a 5-year loan to be paid by 4 shareholders of CB. These were loans which PwC found no evidence to show repayment.

It still beats my understanding of how Mr. Essien classifies CB as profitable when the directors of CB owed CB to a tune of approximately GH¢494.6 million relating to shareholders’ and personal loans. Of the total amount owed by the directors of CB, Mr. William Ato Essien was indebted to a tune of GH¢353,135,492.84; Mr. Isaac Osei Akoto to a tune of GH¢35,448,726.54; Mr. Kwakwa Antwi Kofi an amount of GH¢329,556.79 and Dr. Stephen Enchill and Mr. Kingsley Ghansah an amount of GH¢72,627,671.49 and GH¢33,010,653.02 respectively.

Further, with regards to claims that the cost to be incurred by BoG in saving CB was lower than the cost in closing down CB, it should be noted that between 2015 and 2016, BoG supported CB with liquidity support amounting to GH¢ 620 million.

This liquidity support was to enable CB carry out its daily banking activities including granting loans, improving cash flow and honouring cheques by depositors. However, management of CB misappropriated these funds by enriching themselves and supporting their personal businesses. The selfish and dubious allocation of the total liquidity support is shown below:

-GH¢ 120 million of the total liquidity support was observed to have been transferred to All-time Capital Limited for the purchase of commercial papers from Pronto Constructions and MC management

-GH¢27.5 million paid to William Ato Essien to be used as business promotion

-GH¢65 million placed with Nordea Capital as an investment which was subsequently included in non-performing assets (bad investment) and was submitted to BoG for special dispensation

-GH¢ 53.9 million was transferred to IFS financial services as a related party transaction

-GH¢ 24 million used in forex purchases

A total of GH¢17 million placed as an investment with Accent Financial services which were later also classified as bad investments

GH¢10 million placed as an investment with Commerz Savings and Loans

GH¢ 48 million used in other payments done by CB

It must be further added that Mr. Ato Essien later indicated that of the liquidity support received by CB from BoG, the funds transferred to MC management for commercial papers were used to set up Sovereign Bank; funds which were later transferred from the bank to an unknown destination.

Mr. Ato Essien also indicated in his interrogation by EOCO that he was ready to pay back the GH¢27.5million used as business promotion.

Rather than playing the baseless blame game, Mr. Essien must be grateful for the liquidity support CB enjoyed from the BoG as a means of granting his bank a fair opportunity to succeed.

Columnist: ahiagbahrichard@gmail.com