Nonperforming Opare Hammond Finds Voice Again
Menzgold Company Limited, has disputed claims by the Precious Minerals Marketing Company (PMMC), that it was violating the law in its trade of gold in the country.
According to counsel for the company, Kwame Akufo, there are records to show that in August 2014, then Menzbank, applied for a gold trading license, rubbishing claims they are operating without a license.
PMMC, has been in what people have described as coma for some time now. The sudden public display of power by its Managing Director, Kwadwo Opare Hammond, following the Menzgold saga, is a surprise to many gold exporters, who are aware of the state of the PMMC, as well as several appeals from workers to the Flagstaff House for Mr Hammond to be sacked.
According to Mr. Akuffo, “the license was granted after monies and necessary registrations had been paid for. The license was from September 4, 2014, to September 4, 2015. Subsequent to the expiry of the license, my client applied for a renewal which was granted on November 3, 2015, to expire on November 2, 2016.
“There has never been an occasion where the license issued to Menzgold Ghana Limited, was revoked by any governmental entity,” he said.
According to Mr Akuffo, from 2016, Menzgold, did not have to renew its license anymore, because the PMMC, became an independent assayer.
The lawyer’s comment comes after the Kwadwo Opare Hammond, was captured in the media claiming that, although the company was granted a license in 2014, it has long been revoked.
“The Minerals Commission would usually give you the license and there is a small clause that says ‘you buy gold for export’ and I don’t know if that is what they [Menzgold] are relying on to do this.
“If that is what they are relying on, then they are doing the wrong thing. One is supposed to buy and package the raw gold before exporting it,” he said.
Mr Hammond explained that, even with the exports, no individual or company can export gold without working with PMMC.
He also described as unrealistic the 7-10percent interests being paid by Menzgold Company limited to its customers.
But Mr Akuffo, said the statement of revocation was not supported by any record was completely defamatory to Menzgold.
He challenged Mr Opare Hammond to produce the revocation document, as well as render an unqualified apology.
Regarding PMMC MD’s comment on the percentages given to patrons of the gold exporting company, the lawyer said that, is an issue entirely between Menzgold and its customers.
“None of the customers has made any complaint to Mr Opare Hammond and he is not qualified to comment on the econometrics of the transactions.
“The Minerals Commission, has duly given our client the license to deal with the export, what the PMMC does presently under the legal framework is to become the independent assayer of gold that leaves the republic,” he said.
According to him, “nobody has a Commodities Trading Act in the country…my clients are engaged in commodities trading that is why the Bank of Ghana for example in 2012, has issued a notice and said don’t deal with them.”
“But until six years, the BoG, has never been able to say anywhere in this republic that what they are doing is illegal.”
Interestingly the Bank of Ghana (BoG) in September last year, revoked the export license of the PMMC, a company that exports gold and other minerals.
Confirming the revocation on the Citi Breakfast Show on the subject at the time, Kojo Opare Hammond said “as at now, we are not doing shipping of Gold. Even with our diamond which we do not have any problems with, most of the time I have to really go and plead with them (BoG) to allow us to move. In fact, Bank of Ghana, is really upset with this situation that we came to find ourselves in. But as we speak now, PMMC cannot export goods, because of what happened previously”.
The BoG‘s decision, followed PMMC’s inability to account for gold proceeds of 2.3 billion dollars that were exported out of the country.
“2.3billion dollars worth of gold was shipped through PMMC and none of the money that was earned was returned into the country as required by law” he stressed.
The Bank of Ghana in 2016, announced PMMC, as the sole exporter of gold.
PMMC is a limited liability company operating under the Companies’ code, with the Government of Ghana as the sole shareholder.
The Association of Gold Exporters of Ghana (AGEG) earlier asked the BoG to rescind appointing the PMMC as the certifier for gold exports, as they argued that the PMMC, was involved in dubious business deals, including money laundering by Indians and Chinese with help of some managers of PMMC.
Although, Mr Hammond confirmed that investigations were being conducted by the CID into the matter, till date nothing has been heard.
“This issue actually came up at one of the meetings we held with the Minister of Finance and he immediately asked the CID to take over and begin investigations into this and that is what is ongoing now”.
Tax Analyst, Ali Nakyea Abdallah, tasked authorities to follow up on the issue and ensure culprits are punished accordingly.
“If the report is now out, I will be interested in how they can follow up and make sure we receive these monies because if indeed the gold moved out, then we should get the compensation through the payment. We have to also make sure that any person found culpable does not stay in there. I believe in trying to find where the loss is, recover it and punish the person. We need to recover first before we punish” he stressed.
Mr Nakyea, was of the view that the country’s export earnings, should be enough to stop the government from borrowing. “If there are illicit flows, you will see clearly that what we are losing if accounted for, we are net creditors. We don’t need to borrow,” he exclaimed.