Court Rules On Merchant Bank’s Sale Today

merchant bankAn Accra commercial court will today determine the fate of the application filed by Mr. Tony Lithur against Mr. Andrew Awuni on the sale of Merchant Bank.

The court, presided over by Sophia Bernasko Essah, would determine whether to throw out Awuni’s suit application filed by Mr. Tony Lithur, counsel for Fortiz Equity Fund.

The ruling follows a month litigation on the sale which lawyers of Awuni had described as fraudulent and showed no value for money.

However, Fortiz thinks differently and had therefore, applied to the court to strike out the 14 reliefs sought in the suit and subsequently dismiss the case.

Last week Tuesday, Mr. Lithur told the court that per section 35 of Article 247 of the PNDC law on pension, a contributor did not have the capacity to challenge the investment decision of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) unless he was a trustee.

He argued that Mr. Awuni’s suit was too weak and did not have enough grounds to halt further transactions on the deal.

“Mr. Awuni is not a trustee but just a contributor who in his individual assessment of the deal thinks it is a bad transaction and therefore should be reverted. The law, however, does not say so or does not even give him the right to challenge a decision taken by management of SSNIT,” he further explained.

In response, the counsel for Mr. Awuni, Mr. Egbert Faibille expressed disappointment in Mr. Lithur’s presentation and reminded the court that the PNDC law 247, as cited by Mr. Lithur, had been repealed by the pension Act 766 of 2008.

He held that under Act 766 it was legitimate for contributors to sue SSNIT as a corporate entity hence the decision to challenge the sale in court.

Mr. Faibille stated that the 14 reliefs being sought in the amended writ against the 13 institutions and persons who are at the centre of the deal was legitimate and deserving of a hearing and subsequently a judgment.

The court then adjourned sitting to today to rule on the matter.

Mr. Awuni, on November 15, filed a writ at an Accra Fast Track High Court to revert the deal which he has described on several platforms as fraudulent and did not show value for money.

He, therefore, filed an interlocutory injunction on November 22 to halt further transactions on the sale, pending the determination of the court but has decided to discontinue the matter and rather pursue it in the Commercial Court.

He, then, filed a fresh suit at the Commercial Court against 13 institutions and persons who are at the centre of the sale.

The defendants in the new writ include the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), Fortiz, the Bank of Ghana (BoG), KPMG, all the board members of Merchant Bank as at the initial stage of the sale and three other persons.

The Bank of Ghana approved the deal for Fortiz Private Equities Fund Ghana Limited to pay GH¢90 million  for a 90 per cent stake in Merchant Bank.

Dr. Kofi Wampah, Governor of BoG told journalists at a news conference in Accra recently that BoG had done nothing wrong in the approval of the sale of Merchant Bank to Fortiz but played its role effectively as regulator to ensure a clean deal.

The SSNIT, who is at the centre of the deal and has 90 per cent stake in the bank, has also issued a statement which indicated that the sale was strategic and would boost returns on its investments. By Charles Amankwa

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