Business in Ghana

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MERBAN Reloaded. Critical News, 8th December 2013

Posted by Business in Ghana on December 8, 2013

Sydney Casely-Hayford,

JDM is in the Merchant Bank saga, big time.  Whether he likes it or not, he placed himself there when he did not follow his own code of ethical guidelines, with which he expects his ministers to conform.  Unless it is one of those politician things where you say something or develop a regulation or rule simply to assuage the populace with no intention of ever monitoring the code.  And we have several of such in Ghana.

But how different is Vice President JDM from President John D Mahama?  Does the President carry different ethics now than what he once had as Vice President?  The NDC Government has tried all week to separate the President and the previous Vice President as of different ilk.  From what they say, he followed what his then boss President Mills wanted done, the obedient assistant rather than the upright, confident, ethically opinionated, highly moral President we now have.

The argument in the President’s involvement is not whether he influenced Merban Board decisions to not collect money owed from his brother after years of default and adjustment.  The mere fact that he sat in a meeting between the parties is enough to sway a political-fearing Board, which clearly Marian Barnor and her team were not.

The default and trimming of the payment period, which is supposed to have aggravated E&P’s ability to meet its obligations is purely a red Tilapia.  The courts were there if the clause in their contract was breached, Merban was wide open to breach of contract if they varied the terms without consent, and E&P has a good lawyer in Tony Lithur.

So why did Tony Lithur, a well-respected lawyer with such a high profile choose to petition John Mahama into the middle of this conflict rather than go to court?  He understands what it takes to sit in the middle of negotiations between a creditor and defaulter in frosty circumstances, how much more when your brother is in the center and brother has defaulted for many years.

And shouldn’t Ibrahim Mahama have known better than to agree for his lawyer to pen a petition to his brother the president asking him to intervene on his behalf?  Whichever way you look at it, it is wrong.  I lean on siblings when I want something done.  Don’t we all?  That is what big brothers are for.  But when you brother is the president, you consider the conflict in your case before you make demands.  That is the distinguishing factor.

Former NDC political strategist Mr. Seth Ofori-Ohene clearly does not appreciate what a conflict of interest is all about as he excused his President of all-wrong on Joyfm’s Newsfile on Saturday.  He thinks we are making too much store about all this.

But neither Alfred, John nor Ibrahim himself has come forward to tell the press their side of the story.  Same also JOSPONG, AGAMS and others implicated in the GYEEDA fraud accusations.  The modus operandi seems to be, “stay quiet and grant no press interviews in case it changes direction”, which is what Prez spokesperson did when he tried to spin this story in more ways than ten.

JOYfm published and retracted their headline on the President’s role, even though they were right.  The President’s stature caused some influence, whichever way you take it.

Sometimes I think when we transcend our traditional systems and surf into the white man’s such as in their law and religion, we lose our minds and mis en scene our understanding of authority and ethics.  Consider a chief, whose brother has taken money from one of the largest moneylenders in the village causing the moneylender not to be able to lend as much money for community needs.  Someone tells the Chief and he decides to sit between his brother and the moneylender to mediate.  One of two things can happen.  Either the moneylender retracts out of respect for the chief or the chief instructs directly that the moneylender leave his brother alone.

There has been influence, clear and simple.  As a matter of propriety and morals, court elders will urge the chief to deputise the Nifahene or the Benkumhene or the Nkosuohene to act on his behalf because his direct kin is in the middle of the dispute.  I am yet to see this differently.

The President’s people say he did not ask the moneylender to back down, but the debt collection never progressed. We do not need a code of ethics to be written out for us.  This adage where we are looking only to the white man’s ways to guide us, is leading us off track.  We have built-in ethical rules in our culture.  This is one of them.  Morals.  The President should never have got involved.  He needed to excuse himself from any negotiations.

Clearly, JDM could not influence the Merban Board, yet that issue is totally irrelevant.  If he had done so, we would never have the issue on the table.  Because he failed is why we are looking at how to salvage the bank.

An article published in the Daily Graphic in November 2012, written by David Asante makes a good point with parallel rescue packages around the world but also in close by Nigeria.  I am not against the sale of Merban by any means.  Neither am I against the merger of National Investment Bank and Agricultural Development Bank when we get there, but the circumstances of the sale are strange.  Lets look at it properly.

Fortiz announced they had completed the purchase of Merban.  Andrew Awuni of the Center for Freedom and Accuracy has a case in court.  He says the purported done deal, which the BoG has commented on, is neither here nor there; his case might turn the sale on its head if there is fraud on the shareholders, the Fund Contributors.

You cannot ignore the fact that Merban was sinking under non-performing loans.  They had breached banking regulations many times over and SSNIT had come to their rescue in 2004 to try and stabilize the bank’s liquidity.

In Merban’s 2008 annual report they clarified their vision to the world this way.  “To become the leading, the most influential and best performing financial service provider in Ghana by 2010 and one of the leading banks in West Africa by 2015”.

Today, it is on sale to the lowest bidder.  Enough said.

Oh, the Tobinco man was arrested for obstruction of justice.  Is he innocent of all the accusation or guilty as charged?  I hear on the grapevine that what he is doing is nothing new in the industry.  Apparently they all do it in one form or the other.  But Stephen Opuni was moved from the FDA to Cocobod.  By God? Or by Dr. Bani in the President’s office?  Eh Ghana!

In World Cup group with Germany, USA, Portugal.  We don’t fear huu!  While Ronaldo is trying to score goals, Asamoah Gyan, Wakaso, Ayew, Kwadwo Asamoah, Prince Boateng and Christian Atsu will be scoring their own.  As for the Bayern Munich players, we fear them, so we will draw 1-1 and move to knockout stage.  We are calling on our development partners to rescue us one more time.  May God Bless USA.

Ghana, Aha a ye de papa.  Alius valde week advenio. Another great week to come!

One Response to “MERBAN Reloaded. Critical News, 8th December 2013”

  1. aosei1 said

    Thanks to your posts some of us are able to keep hope alive in these dark days….


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