EOCO officials to be cross-examined as prosecution witnesses against directors of UT, Capital Banks

The Board of EOCO that was inaugurated by the Attorney General Godfred Dame

Dockets have been forwarded by the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) to the Attorney General for advise and prosecution in relation to the failed banks, Microfinance Finance Companies (MFCs) and Savings and Loans and Finance House Companies (S&Ls).

The EOCO and the Receiver are expected to act as prosecution witnesses in the event the cases go for trial.

In it’s update on the fallouts of the banking sector cleanup exercise, the Bank of Ghana said on Wednesday August 17 that in the course of assessing the financial position of the defunct MFCs and S&Ls, it was noted that there was a mismatch in the assets and liabilities as reported by these institutions.

In addition, the BoG said, there were transactions that required further investigation to determine their legitimacy.

The Receiver engaged EOCO’s assistance to jointly investigate the operators of the resolved Special Deposit-Taking Institutions (SDIs), following clearance by BoG.

With clearance from BoG, the Receiver has also referred 100 properties to EOCO to be investigated in order to ascertain their ownership status.

The Receiver in collaboration with EOCO has so far identified 100 landed properties for further investigations to ascertain their ownership status.

“This comprises 68 landed properties relating to to five MFCs and 32 relating to nine S&Ls, EOCO advised that freezing orders are obtained while they conduct their investigations,” the BoG said.

The Receiver has reported approx. GHS1.09bn of Related Party transactions to BoG and has requested for assistance from EOCO for further investigations to aid recovery.

Meanwhile, the central bank has provided a ¢10million grant to assist the EOCO to do its work.

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Portions of the grant are to assist the EOCO to complete investigations into the causes of the mess in the banking sector.

Governor of the BoG said this when he signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the investigative body in Accra.

The Executive Director of EOCO, Commissioner of Police (COP) Maame Yaa Tiwaa Addo-Danquah, signed on behalf of the office.

Dr Ernest Addison stated that the malpractices that happened in some of the banks were complex hence the involvement of experts from the EOCO to probe further.

Some of the directors of the collapsed banks, he said, were unable to account for happenings in their institutions.

Others, he added, were also not able to account for what depositors’ funds were used for.

“By this MOU, BoG will provide the needed resources to EOCO to execute its mandate,” Dr Addison said.

It is recalled that financial analysts including Mr Joe Jackson indicated that investors lost confidence in the financial sector following the alleged involvement of the directors in the issues that led to the sectorial crisis.

He told Alfred Ocansey on the Sunrise morning show on 3FM that all the executives of these collapsed banks whose actions and inaction led to the failures should be prosecuted.

“How can we induce confidence in the investor when the signal we are giving out is that someone does wrong and gets away with it? That we haven’t seen any conviction yet is sad,” he said.

He noted that “public confidence is low because they look around and see other officials walking around. Where is the state that is supposed to keep them in check?”

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He further expressed concerns over the slow pace of the prosecution of the directors who are currently standing trials.

“Justice delayed is justice denied, this thing has been going on for four years and where are the convictions?

“It is really bad to those of us who operate in the market. Because it says that, if I misbehave, if I am reckless, if I am fraudulent, there will be no punishment and I will get away with it. When you are not convicting them, you are doing the market harm, you are doing the customers harm in terms of confidence and those who are in the business trying to do good and that doesn’t make sense,” he added.

The Bank Ghana with support from the Finance Ministry swept through the financial sector of the economy between the period 2017 and 2019.

The central bank first started by revising the minimum paid-up capital for existing banks and new entrants from GHS120 million to GHS400 million.

According to the regulator, this was to test the viability of the banks.

The banks that were unable to meet this new requirement were either merged or collapsed.

Following this action, some nine local banks, 23 savings & loans companies, 347 microfinance institutions, 39 finance houses and 53 fund management companies closed down during the exercise.

In total, the government spent GHSS23billion to undertake this exercise

UniBank, The Sovereign Bank, The Beige Bank, Premium Bank, The Royal Bank, Heritage Bank, Construction Bank, UT Bank, Capital Bank all collapsed.

By Laud Nartey|3news.com|Ghana

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