17 January 2014

Ghana: Anti Merbank Demo Hits Accra

A group of anti-Merchant Bank Ghana (MBG) sale protesters took to the streets of Accra yesterday to register their displeasure in Bank of Ghana (BoG) and the Social Security &National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) decision to sell Merchant bank to Fortiz Equity Fund.

The group, Public Action Against Corruption and Abuse (PAACA) called for an immediate abrogation of the sale of MBG to Fortiz, contending that it was shrouded in secrecy and deceit.

Speaking to The Chronicle during the protest match, Ernest Owusu Bempah, a member of the group, described the sale as fraudulent. "The sale was a total fraud," he said, adding "We believe there is a shady deal behind the sale of the bank. It is a cooked up deal."

Allegations of money laundering

According Owusu Bempah, the tactics employed by the government was that of deceit aimed at throwing dust into the eyes of Ghanaians. He alleged that top government officials deliberately stifled Merchant Bank, getting it reeling on its knees, so that they could cheaply dispose of it, among themselves.

"The only way the government can consolidate itself is to steal money through MBG sale. This is absolutely beyond the bounds of human reasoning," mentioned Owusu Bempah.

"Even though our parliament has disappointed us, our courts would not allow us the opportunity to punch loopholes in the transactions, we would not stand aloof to watch MBG sold at a peanut, after it was deliberately collapsed due to unpaid debts," said Convenor for the PAACA, Atik Mohammed.

"We think that the transaction is very fraudulent, lacks transparency and value for money for the SNNIT contributors. We, therefore, are demonstrating to register our position in no unreserved term, in respect of the transaction that has gone on between Fortiz Equity Fund and SNNIT," noted Atik Mohammed.

According to Atik Mohammed, it doesn't matter what document SSNIT and Fortiz Equity signed, but "that transaction ought to be terminated immediately."

On December 13, 2013, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) called for suspension of the sale of MBG by BoG and SNNIT calling for the conduction of further due diligence.

"After a careful study of the transaction and taking into account concerns expressed by workers who are contributors to SSNIT, it will be prudent that the SSNIT Board and the BoG suspend the transaction to allow further investigations into the matter," TUC's Secretary-General Kofi Asamoah told the press.

TUC boss toothless

The protesters, numbering not more than 200, displayed placards with inscriptions such as: 'TUC boss toothless', 'Give us Merchant Bank', 'Create loot and share', 'SNNIT account for our deductions', 'JDM heed the cries of pensioners', 'Tony Lithur can go to hell' and 'NDC Must Go', among others.

"The government must reverse the sale of Merchant bank," Joseph Otoo, a demonstrator told The Chronicle. "We are not opposed to the sale," he admitted to The Chronicle, but "it was disposed off so cheap and that is my concern," he revealed.

"The sale was simply ghastly" said a 50 year old demonstrator, Suleman Mamma. "Why should I sit unconcerned to watch this illegality being perpetrated," he queried in an interview with The Chronicle.

Other demonstrators who spoke on condition of anonymity told The Chronicle that they are extremely suffering under this government and are rooting for the return of the savior, NPP.

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