UT, Capital Banks sale to GCB turns murky

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 Source: The Herald

To many ordinary people, owners and directors of the two collapsed commercial banks; UT Bank Ghana Limited and Capital bank, including Prince Kofi Amoabeng and Rev. Dr. Mensah Otabil are being thoroughly investigated by the accounting and audit giant, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) to determine their individual roles leading to the demise of the two banks, according to strict instructions of the Bank of Ghana (BOG).

However, to critical minds, there are many unanswered questions regarding, the secret nature of last Monday’s takeover and the amount GCB, is paying for the purchase banks and to whom.

It’s also not clear, how many banks, had bided for the purchase of the two financial institutions, before the BoG settled on GCB; an already struggling state-owned commercial bank.

Questions are also being raised, about the involvement of the GCB board of directors in the two transactions whether or not they had adequately abreast themselves of their audited accounts filed at the Controller and Accountant General’s Department as required by the Companies Code.

Also strange, is the silence of the otherwise vocal persons connected to the two banks, especially Prince Kofi Amoabeng of UT Bank, who was said to be in his village, Akyem Kukurantumi in the East Akim District of the Eastern Region over the weekend.

Other questions begging for answers are the hurriedly organized press conference by BoG, the speedy removal of all signposts of the two banks and their subsequent replacement with those of GCB across the country.

Additionally, the 13-member board of directors of the BoG, were inaugurated last week Thursday, August 10, 2017, it is unclear whether the new board thoroughly investigated the circumstances of the two banks before the surprise revocation of their licenses, leaving both workers and customers stranded Monday morning; four days after the new BoG board took office.

The central bank said in a press release issued Monday August 14, 2017, that it has approved a Purchase and Assumption transaction with GCB Bank Ltd that transfers all deposits and selected assets of UT Bank Ltd and Capital Bank Ltd to GCB Bank Ltd, without mentioning how much the transaction cost GCB; a state owned bank.

The Governor of the BoG, Dr Ernest Addison, later warned that “the last phase of the BoG’s action will involve a thorough investigation of the operations of the UT Bank and the Capital Bank and appropriate action will be taken against shareholders, directors and key management personnel who are found to be culpable,” he warned.

The Co-Founders and directors of the UT Bank; Prince Kofi Amoabeng and Joseph Nsonamoah, Stephen Antwi-Asimeng, Chief Executive Officer, Martyn Mensah and Alex Bernasko, Linda Osei-Akoto directors of UT Bank Limited are to be investigated, according to the BoG instructions.

For Capital Bank, William Ato Essien; Dr. Mensa Otabil of the International Central Gospel Church (ICGC) and Rev. Fizgerald Odonkor; founder, board chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), respectively are to be held answerable to the demise of the bank which used to be a headline sponsor of Ghana’s Premier League.

Dr. Addison, at a news conference in Accra on Monday, said that those who breached the corporate governance and financial rules of the banks would face punitive sanctions.

“The Bank of Ghana has revoked the licences of UT Bank Ltd and Capital Bank Ltd. This action has become necessary due to severe impairment of their capital. The remaining assets and liabilities will be realised and settled respectively through a receivership process to be undertaken by Messers Vish Ashiagbor and Eric Nana Nipah of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). The main offices and branches of UT Bank and Capital Bank will be under the control of GCB bank and will be opened at 1pm today (Monday) for normal business transactions. Customers of UT Bank and Capital Bank are now customers of GCB bank,” it said.

The Minority Members in Parliament (MPs) has also called for a bi-partisan investigation to be instituted into circumstances leading to the collapse of UT bank and Capital bank.

The call was made at a press conference addressed by the Minority’s spokesperson on Finance, Cassiel Ato Forson, yesterday.

However, commenting on the development at the presser, Mr. Forson said “we the Members of the Minority of this Parliament, as a matter of urgency, will be requesting through the Rt Honourable Speaker that the Minister of Finance and the Governor of the Bank of Ghana be invited to brief parliament about this development and to give assurances that depositors will suffer no losses.”

“We are urging the government to, as a matter of urgency, institute a bi-partisan probe into what occasioned the rise and fall of these two banks. We think that this situation needs to be investigated so that if it is true that actions or inactions by owners and managers of these banks actually resulted in the banks collapsing, I believe that the state will have to take action.

“We call for a bi-partisan probe and should be done immediately so that the people of this country will have some confidence in the banking sector to serve as a deterrent, going forward,” he added.

Meanwhile, GCB Bank, has emphasized that it would undertake a skills assessment to determine the necessary action regarding employment, following the takeover of UT Bank and Capital bank.

The Managing Director of GCB Bank, Ray Sowah, explained that the move would provide the necessary steps as to which staff should be retained or laid off.

He made the remarks when he addressed the press yesterday, on proceedings of Monday’s surprise takeover.

“We shall conduct a skills assessment as part of integration process we need to know that we can bring everyone onboard or not. This is an expanded institution and as we go through the integration we should know what jobs to close down and what jobs to retain,” he remarked.

Mr. Sowah added, “I am intimated when I spoke about the revocation of the licenses of the two institutions that from that moment on, the employment with the previous employers ceased all claims that will have to go to the receiver.”

The takeover of the two banks by GCB Bank, has led to many concerns over the fate of the staff of the affected banks.

The issue is considered critical due to the staff strength of both workers estimated at one thousand.

Accra-based Citi FM’s reports that information available indicates that all staff of the two acquired banks will undergo a six-month probation leading to the retention of at least a quarter of the workers while the remaining are likely to lose their jobs.

But Mr. Ray Sowah, maintained that the ultimate decision would have to be determined after due process is taken.

“What we can speak to is the fact that they are working with us for the moment; they are new employees of our institution and therefore we shall look to see whether we can keep them or not. As to what happens in terms of the resolution or the contract that we need to give them, is another matter that we need to handle internally,” Citi FM quotes him as saying.

Source: The Herald
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