NPP Caucus Protests Over Merchant Bank Sale

Seth-TerkperThe Minority New Patriotic Party (NPP) has called on the government to bring to an immediate halt, all attempts to sell off 90 per cent shareholdings in Merchant Bank Ghana Limited to Fortiz Equity Fund Limited.

According to the party, the sale of Merchant Bank to Fortiz Limited is a “scam and fraudulent deal being perpetuated on Ghanaians”.

Speaking at a news conference yesterday, the Member of Parliament for New Juaben South, Dr. Mark Assibey Yeboah, alleged that the government was using the Bank of Ghana (BoG) to carry out the sale without exercising due diligence.

He said even though no agreement had been signed between Fortiz and the other shareholders of Merchant Bank, the BoG had gone ahead to give approval to the sale.

“We want to state emphatically that due diligence has not been done in the present circumstance. And we challenge the Governor of BoG to come out and tell Ghanaians if due diligence was done,” he said.

The New Juaben South MP recalled that the BoG, in June this year, declined to approve the exchange of 75 per cent shareholdings of Merchant Bank to one of South Africa’s largest banks, First Rand Bank, for GH¢199 million and wondered why the central bank had given approval to the sale of 90 per cent shareholdings of the same bank for only GH¢90 million to Fortiz Limited.

Dr. Yeboah indicated that First Rand Bank had assets in excess of US$103 billion, almost eight times the total assets of the banking industry of Ghana, yet, the sale of Merchant Bank to the South African bank was rejected.

“It must be emphasised though that one of the reasons why the First Rand Bank proposal was not approved was the issue of the outstanding bad debts on the books of Merchant Bank. Indeed, efforts by the board to go after huge unpaid loan portfolios had been scuttled by powerful forces,” he said.

However, he said Fortiz  Limited, a company incorporated in June this year with a stated capital of only GH¢5 million had been offered 90 per cent shareholdings in Merchant Bank, which had a stated capital of GH¢68 million.

“They have no experience in banking as far as we are concerned and by their capitalisation do not even qualify for a non-bank institution license, according to the Bank of Ghana’s own requirements,” he said.

Present at the news conference were the leadership of the Minority in Parliament, including the Minority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, and some members of the Minority. By Yaw Kyei

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