Ken Ofori-Attah Secretly Buying UniBank?

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To Revive Databank

Ken Ofori-Attah, Minister of Finance, is reported to be frustrating the chief banker at the Bank of Ghana, Dr. Ernest Addison, for Unibank not to be returned to its original owners.

A KPGM report making the rounds, has recommended that the bank should be given back to its original owners, but Ken, wants Databank, an investment firm which he owns, to take over the Unibank.

This according to insiders is being hatched together with some investors, who are already in town for the negotiations with Bank of Ghana (BoG).

The Finance Minister, is reported to be pushing for changes in the report to make the Unibank situation look so bad before the public and get it sold.

The situation, The Herald is informed is creating some tension between BoG and the Ministry of Finance.

Already, the House of Duffour Asset, (HODA), has expressed its readiness to raise additional funds to make the bank viable, but the Finance Minister, is reportedly bent on taking over the ownership of the Unibank from HODA.

Since the Official Administrator, the KPMG was appointed by the BoG, they have never had any engagement with the owners of the Unibank, but has gone ahead to submit its interim reports to the BoG.

The BoG, effective March 20, this year, appointed KPMG as Official Administrator of UniBank to assume managerial control of the bank.

The powers, functions and responsibilities of the shareholders, directors and key management were effectively suspended with the appointment..

Currently, the asset of HODA is around GH¢4.2billion, this together with the new capital injection of GH¢1billion, would make bank the solid and liquid.

The Herald last week reported how landed properties of former Governor, Dr. Kwabena Duffuor, were put out for sale by the Central Bank,  while the same bank, has been tightlipped on the properties of the owners; Capital Bank and UT Bank, which also collapsed, last year.

While, Dr. Duffuor, owns Unibank, the two others; Capital Bank and UT Bank, are owned by the Founder of International Central Gospel Church (ICGC), Pastor Mensa Otabil and Capt. Prince Kofi Amoabeng, respectively.

Indeed, there are reports that, government had gone into the financial market to raise some billions of Ghana Cedis, to clear debts owed by collapsed UT and Capital banks.

The announcement that, the Bank of Ghana (BoG) was selling Dr. Duffuor’s properties valued at a whopping US$82 million and located in prime areas of Accra, has raised eyebrows with many suggesting that, the Central Bank was shielding Pastor Mensa Otabil, who is a spiritual father of the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta and his wife, Angela Ofori-Atta.

Kofi Amoabeng, is reportedly being shielded, because he is also seen as one of the many cousins of President Nana Akufo-Addo from Akyem Kukurantumi in the Eastern Region.

Dr. Duffuor’s properties, according to media reports are being sold to defray loans and other financial obligations entered into by Unibank. The ten properties are located primarily at Ridge, Adabraka, Airport, and Asylum Down and are valued at between US$1 million and US$25 million.

Details of the sale according to Joy FM, are sketchy, but a property schedule details all the properties and their values as well as locations are ready.  Internationally recognised auditing firm, KPMG, was early this year appointed by the Bank of Ghana in what the regulator said was part of moves to save Unibank.

A Deputy Governor of the Central Bank told Joy FM that, Unibank, had been on life support for many years.

According to Mrs. Elsie Awadzi, the managers of the local bank, had been defaulting in supplying requested information relating to the performance of the bank. She insisted the Central Bank’s decision was in the interest of owners of the bank and depositors as well.

The Administrators, according to the BoG, were expected to assess the full extent of the struggling bank. It would seem, that some troubling findings have been made, prompting the sale of landed properties of the owner of the bank.

Dr. Duffuor was onetime Finance Minister in the John Evans Atta-Mills government.

The Central Bank, in August last year, authorized GCB to take over Capital and UT Banks but was to appoint KPMG to manage Unibank months later. The collapsed banks were “unable to develop an acceptable plan”, according to the BoG, which indicated in a statement that it made efforts to help UT Bank and Capital Bank recover via private alternatives.

The Central Bank said there were “repeated agreements between the Bank of Ghana and UT Bank and Capital Bank to implement an action plan to address these significant shortfalls.” However, the owners and managers of UT Bank and Capital Bank were unable to increase the capital of the banks to address the insolvency.

Purchase and Assumption agreement allows GCB Bank to take over all deposit liabilities and selected assets of both UT Bank and Capital Bank, per section 123 of the Banks and Specialized Deposit-Taking Institutions (SDIs) Act, 2016 (Act 930). The BoG in its statement said the GCB Bank took over UT Bank and Capital Bank “as part of efforts to extend their reach and grow their balance sheet to position them to support large transactions in a fast growing economy.”

GCB was asked to over all the depositors’ funds and will continue to provide normal banking services to customers and depositors of the two collapsed banks will now become customers of GCB Bank. The Bank of Ghana later revealed that it had ‘revoked the Licences of UT Bank Ltd and Capital Bank Ltd.” explaining that “this action has become necessary due to severe impairment of their capital.”

The remaining assets and liabilities of the two banks will be realized and settled respectively through a receivership process to be undertaken by Messers Vish Ashiagbor and Eric Nana Nipah of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

It had been suggested that the central bank, appears to be playing games with the shareholder of uniBank Ghana Limited, refusing them attempt to recapitalize the bank to address its solvency and liquidity challenges.

The shareholders insist, they have the wherewithal to make the bank work again and be profitable, but the Bank of Ghana (BoG), appears not ready to hear them, leaving them apprehensively questioning the motives of public servants at the bank.

The Herald learnt that, the government of Ghana, owes uniBank about US$1 billion, while Belstar Capital Limited, has US$800 million worth of shares in the state-owned Agric Development Bank (Bank).

 With a fair hearing, the shareholders believe, these colossal amounts put together, will revive uniBank, make it profitable and keep thousands of Ghanaian workers in secured jobs, and the shareholders are ready to meet up with officials of the Central bank and other government officials for a fruitful discussion on the way forward.

But it’s unclear why and when this fair hearing will come, however, Dr. Kwabena Duffour, a shareholder of uniBank Ghana Limited, has, on behalf of the shareholders of the bank, reaffirmed their commitment to recapitalise the financial institution.

“We are also ready to progress discussions on the appropriate structure to handle and leverage the assets of the bank registered with the name of the holder, House of Duffuor Assets (HODA)”, a letter signed by  Dr. Duffour in response to an earlier one written by KPMG said.

In response to the KPMG letter the shareholders, led by Dr Duffour, affirmed their readiness to accept one of the three strategic options to save the bank, as presented by the official administrator (OA) of the bank, KPMG, to the government.

According to the Daily Graphic newspaper, the letter from the KPMG, who were appointed the official administrator by the BoG put the total deficit of uniBank at 4.9 billion. The three options are entitled, ‘Good Banks/Bad Banks’, ‘Recapitalisation by existing shareholders with or without new shareholders’ and ‘Recapitalisation by new shareholders’.

Ken Ofori Atta

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