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Court our only option – Groupe Nduom

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Court our only option – Groupe Nduom

Legal action is the only channel available to GN Savings and Loans in seeking redress over the revocation of its licence by the Bank of Ghana (BoG), the parent company Groupe Nduom (GN) has said.

GN observed in a press statement signed by its Corporate Affairs Manager, Mr Frank Owusu-Ofori, on Wednesday, 21 August 2019, that: “It appears that our only option is to pursue this case in the court of law – negotiating with the Bank of Ghana in good faith has yielded less than desirable results”.

A few months ago, the central bank approved a request to downgrade GN Bank from a universal bank to a Savings and Loans company following its inability to meet the new minimum capital of GH¢ 400 million by 31st December 2018.

Explaining the reasons for cancelling the licence of GN Savings and Loans, BoG said: “GN’s shareholders have failed to restore the bank to the required regulatory capital and liquidity levels in spite of long-standing promises that new capital was expected from foreign investors”.

It added that: “While GN has indicated that government owes it a total amount of GH¢942.98 million of which GH¢102.73 million represented Interim Payment Certificates (IPCs), the Bank of Ghana’s assessment is that IPCs totalling GH¢30.33 million only have been confirmed by the Ministry of Finance as at 6th August 2019 as owed to contractors that may be indebted to affiliates of GN. The Bank of Ghana’s supervisory assessment showed that even when the total outstanding IPCs amount of GH¢30.33 million was considered, it still did not address GN’s capital deficit of -GH¢683.66 million.

“It must be noted that GN’s insolvency problems are largely attributable to overdraft and other facilities it extended to its related parties who are other companies in the Groupe Ndoum network of businesses, under circumstances that violated relevant prudential norms. Of particular interest are the funds totalling GH¢761.55 million that GN Bank as it then was, placed with its sister companies Ghana Growth Fund (Gold Coast Advisors) and Gold Coast Fund Management Limited (now Blackshield Capital Management), both licensed by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“Some of these funds were used by the two related parties to pay their customers whose investments with them had matured, while some were also used to fund road and other contractors, who claim to have worked on Government projects. It is important to note that the IPCs claimed by GN are not supported by transactions that were entered into directly by GN and such contractors or Government and its entities. They reflect transactions entered into by Ghana Growth Fund or Gold Coast Fund “Management with these contractors using funds taken from GN under circumstances that violated prudential norms”.

However, GN says it finds the assertions of the apex bank erroneous. It said: “The allegations found on page 19 of the BoG’s Public Notice are the most concerning, as the statements made regarding funds transferred abroad are completely false. We have not transferred customer funds abroad in the manner alleged in the Public Notice. International Business Solutions (IBS) has provided a variety of services, including procurement and management consulting. IBS purchased vehicles, generators, stationery, manufacturing raw materials, computers, and a variety of other products for sister companies such as GN Savings, Coconut Grove Hotels, EPPL, and Freshpak.”

“These goods and services were provided over the course of 12 years. These products purchased by IBS (including the Ford, Dodge, and Fiat vehicles driven by company managers and the hundreds of bright yellow AKSA generators) are all here in Ghana in plain sight. These transactions saved the Groupe Nduom companies money by not going through intermediaries who would have charged huge margins on those products. They were all imported and all required foreign currency. That foreign currency was purchased using the funds of the depositors that required them and NOT from the deposits of the hundreds of thousands of other GN Savings customers.

“Similar, the raw materials used to produce polystyrene-based products by Freshpak Company Limited and EPPL were all procured by IBS, after which those products were imported into Ghana and turned into finished products. Extensive documentation exist and have been provided to the BOG regarding every single transfer that pertained to Groupe Nduom. This documentation was made available both physically (thousands of pages of documents) and electronically. The documents have been with the BoG since 2018, and we received no response from the team. Therefore, the statement that such a huge amount of “customer funds” was transferred abroad with “no documentation” is false and cannot be used to withdraw the SDI license”.

Read the full statement below:

Additional Comments on the BOG Notice on GN Savings

We have taken note of the statement issued on August 16, 2019, by the Bank of Ghana. The notice, unfortunately, contains a number of factual inaccuracies and misrepresentations. The statement creates a false impression of the chain of events that resulted in the liquidity challenges faced by the bank and we intend to take any and all necessary steps to ensure that the record is set straight.

1.00. Closing the operations of GN Savings will be inimical to the development aspirations of the country. It will go against the strides made to bring the unbanked into the formal sector. Indeed, with its 300 offices spread throughout all the regions, GN Savings is often the only licensed financial institution in many towns.

2.00. GN Savings is not only solvent but would be highly liquid if the Ministry of Finance simply ordered itself and other government agencies to quickly pay amounts owed to GN Savings and Gold Coast and the contractors whose projects they financed.

Groupe Nduom, through GN Bank, Gold Coast Fund Management, Gold Coast Advisors, and the Ghana Growth Fund Company, has pre-financed infrastructure development in Ghana to the tune of approximately GHS 14 Billion over the past several years. Over 600 roads, bridges, schools, and other critical additions to Ghana’s infrastructure have been made possible by funds mobilized and invested by these companies. The financing of these projects structured as loans (when from the bank) and commercial paper (when from Ghana Growth Fund Company) represented a significant proportion of the placements.

The letter written by the Ministry of Finance on August 6th, 2019 confirmed less than 10% of the amounts immediately owed to Groupe Nduom companies, both directly and indirectly. However, the Ministry of Finance itself confirmed a figure in excess of GHS 600 million in a letter to the BOG last year. We expect this government infrastructure portfolio liability and the obvious inconsistencies to be resolved in due course. When this is done, the financial picture will be clearer.

3.00. We have worked hard to bring new investments into the company. Shareholders, non-shareholder stakeholders, and related companies have liquidated and were still in the process of liquidating assets to bring cash to the bank to sustain operations. A number of third parties had reached out to explore investing in the bank.

We informed the BOG’s BSD on August 16th of a meeting to be held in London on Monday next week with a prospective investor interested in investing $100 million in GN Savings.

4.00. The allegations found on page 19 of the BOG’s Public Notice are the most concerning, as the statements made regarding funds transferred abroad are completely false. We have not transferred customer funds abroad in the manner alleged in the Public Notice. International Business Solutions (IBS) has provided a variety of services, including procurement and management consulting. IBS purchased vehicles, generators, stationery, manufacturing raw materials, computers, and a variety of other products for sister companies such as GN Savings, Coconut Grove Hotels, EPPL, and Freshpak. These goods and services were provided over the course of 12 years. These products purchased by IBS (including the Ford, Dodge, and Fiat vehicles driven by company managers and the hundreds of bright yellow AKSA generators) are all here in Ghana in plain sight. These transactions saved the Groupe Nduom companies money by not going through intermediaries who would have charged huge margins on those products. They were all imported and all required foreign currency. That foreign currency was purchased using the funds of the depositors that required them and NOT from the deposits of the hundreds of thousands of other GN Savings customers.

Similar, the raw materials used to produce polystyrene-based products by Freshpak Company Limited and EPPL were all procured by IBS, after which those products were imported into Ghana and turned into finished products. Extensive documentation exist and have been provided to the BOG regarding every single transfer that pertained to Groupe Nduom. This documentation was made available both physically (thousands of pages of documents) and electronically. The documents have been with the BoG since 2018, and we received no response from the team.

Therefore, the statement that such a huge amount of “customer funds” was transferred abroad with “no documentation” is false and cannot be used to withdraw the SDI license.

5.0. It is also important to note that companies Groupe Nduom has built in Ghana are owed GHS 313,480,618.67 in unpaid IPCs and delayed interest, both on paid and unpaid IPCs, as of June 2019. The fact that the name “GN Bank” or “GN Savings” does not appear on an IPC does not mean that the bank is not the ultimate beneficiary. There is also a loan portfolio of GHS 2,143,031,818.38 (nearly $400 Million) for funds that were disbursed to Ghanaian contractors working on various government projects. This portfolio is several times larger than the total amount of foreign transactions facilitated by GN Bank on behalf of Groupe Nduom. Therefore, it is difficult to understand what relevance this regulatory issue that we addressed with the BoG in 2018 has to do with anything, particularly our longstanding request for IPC payment.

Anyone who says at this time that all that the Government of Ghana’s agencies owe our companies is GHS 30 million, is being mischievous. In addition, private sector organisations owe us commercial paper/placement debts of over GHS 400 million. Our companies have millions of Ghana cedis locked up in other institutions that have been collapsed during this “clean-up” exercise and have not been able to retrieve them. Clearly, if the Government of Ghana’s agencies had paid what is due a year ago, the Bank of Ghana would not have impaired the infrastructure portfolio, we would have been able to raise the additional capital required and GN Bank would still be a universal bank. At our peak in 2018, Groupe Nduom employed over 7,000 people, 2,000 from GN Savings (now down to 1400 ). This number has dropped to about 3,500. Not only are the jobs of 1,400 GN Savings employees at risk, but there are over 1,200

employees of GN companies who provide security and property services to the bank whose jobs are now at risk. The consequences of this action will, therefore, affect over 2,500 employees and their families

6.0. We have had to resort to the law courts in desperation and under siege. After over a year of providing documentation to agencies and regulators, our customers’ patience has been worn thin. The liquidity that payments under this portfolio would provide would surely turn our fortunes around, and the benefits will accrue not just to our employees and customers, but to the country as a whole. So why would a government and its regulators deny us payments due for legitimate work done by contractors then turn around to impair those receivables and use that fact to revoke a license to operate as an SDI.

7.0. GN Savings has not sacked its top management staff. As of Friday afternoon, that team was still at post. The BOG as a regulator must not make important decisions based on hearsay. We challenge BOG to produce the said termination letters. The Chairman of the Board of Directors in a letter written to BSD promised to deliver a new organization structure befitting the status of a Savings and loans company.

8.00. GN Savings has not closed 70 offices. Rather, the company wrote several weeks ago to BSD for approval to temporarily suspend operations in a number of offices to reduce cost during the business revival period. BSD has till today not responded to this request.

9.00. It’s important to note that GN Savings came up with new ideas that have caused its business to begin a sustained revival. Thousands of customers had started making new deposits and enjoying unrestricted withdrawals. Why would the Bank of Ghana revoke the license of such a company?

10.00. It appears that our only option is to pursue this case in the court of law – negotiating with the Bank of Ghana in good faith has yielded less than desirable results.

Signed,

Frank Owusu-Ofori

GN Corporate Affairs

Source: classfmonline.com

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Africa’s three richest men have more wealth than the poorest 650m people across the continent

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Africa’s three richest men have more wealth than the poorest 650m people across the continent

Three African billionaires today have more wealth than the poorest 50% – or 650 million people across the continent, reveals a new Oxfam report today.

The report, called “A Tale of Two Continents”, is launched as African political and business leaders gather this week for the World Economic Forum Africa meeting in Cape Town, South Africa. It shows how rising and extreme inequality across Africa is undermining efforts to fight poverty.

A Tale of Two Continents reveals that while the richest Africans fortunes are increasing, extreme poverty is rising in the continent. The report also looks at how unsustainable levels of debt and a rigged international tax system are depriving African governments of billions of dollars in lost revenue each year – money that could otherwise be invested in education, healthcare and social protection.

The continent is rapidly becoming the epicentre of global extreme poverty. While the number of people living on less than $1.90 a day has plummeted in Asia, this number is rising in Africa. The World Bank estimates that 87% of the world’s extreme poor will be in Africa by 2030, if current trends continue.

Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International, said:

“Africa is ready to rise – but only once it’s leaders have the courage to back a more human economy that works for the many and not a few super-rich men. They can achieve this by investing in inequality-busting, universal and quality public services like health and education and by developing truly progressive tax systems. These are particularly powerful for women and girls living in poverty. They can also back a transformation towards decent and dignified work that protects the rights of workers, especially in the age of the African Free Trade Area and the new digital era.”

The report features a first-ever ranking of African nations on their commitment to tackling inequality. The Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index, developed by Oxfam and Development Finance International, ranks countries on their policies on social spending, tax, and labour rights – three areas the organizations say are critical to reducing inequality. South Africa and Namibia take first and second place respectively, with their strong social spending and a progressive tax system. Nigeria meanwhile has an unenviable distinction of being at the bottom of the Africa ranking, as well as the global ranking for two years running.

The report shows that:

3 African billionaires now have more wealth than the poorest 50% – or 650 million people across the continent

The most unequal country in the region, Swaziland, is home to one billionaire, Nathan Kirsh, who is estimated to have $4.9bn. If he worked in one of the restaurants that his wholesale company supplies on a worker’s minimum wage, it would take him 5.7 million years to earn his current level of wealth

The combined wealth of the 5 richest Nigerians is more than enough to end poverty in Nigeria. Nigeria’s girl population makes up 60% of the more than 10 million children who do not go to school.

75% of the wealth of African multi-millionaires and billionaires is held offshore, as result the continent is losing $14billion annually in uncollected tax revenue.

Dangerous and unsustainable levels of debt are hurting social spending. In 2018, Angola spent 57% of government revenue on debt repayments while public spending was cut by 19% between 2016 and 2018. Similar trends are present in Ghana, Egypt, Cameroon and Mozambique

African women and girls are also most likely to be poor. They also stand to lose the most when public services like healthcare and education are underfunded. In Kenya, a boy from a rich family has a one-in-three chance of continuing his studies beyond secondary school. However, a girl from a poor family has a 1-in-250 chance of doing so. Women and girls also bear the brunt of failing healthcare systems, clocking in hours of unpaid care work looking after sick relatives. In Malawi, women spend seven times the amount of time on unpaid care work than men.

Ms Byanyima said:

“African political and business leaders face a clear choice. They can stay on the path of increasingly extreme inequality, where poverty continues to rise while wealth in the hands of a tiny elite and foreign companies’ spirals. Or they can choose another way: towards a more prosperous and equal Africa that invests in and respects the dignity of all its people.”

Source: Oxfam International

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Breaking!!! Transport fares to go up by 10%

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Breaking!!! Transport fares to go up by 10%

The Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) says effective September 16, public transport fares will go up by 10 per cent.

Explaining the basis for the increment, the Union said the various components that go into the running of commercial transport services has gone up.

“This is to accommodate predominantly an increase in fuel prices,” Kwame Kuma, the National Chairman of GPRTU said in a statement, Tuesday.

For some time now, the Union has called for an increment in their fares as prices of spare parts have gone up.

The increased fares will cover intra-city (trotro), intercity (long-distance ride) and shared taxis.

Mr Kuma advised all members of the Union to comply with the “new fares and post the fare list at the loading terminals so as to avoid any confrontation with the travelling public.”

The last time fares were increased was in January 2018.

Source: Myjoyonline.com

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Tema Aflao road to be expanded into six lanes – Expert

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Tema Aflao road to be expanded into six lanes - Expert

The Tema-Aflao road which forms part of the Abidjan Lagos corridor will be expanded from the current two (2) lanes to six (6) lanes, an environmental and climate climate change consultant, has revealed.

“This means that the width of the road will take 100 meters with 50 meters on each side. The Lower Volta Bridge at Sogakorpe in the Volta Region will be expanded as well, “Mr Divine Odame Appiah told stakeholders at a consultation forum on the proposed construction.

The Ada West District falls into the ECOWAS’s Abidjan to Lagos Highway expansion alignment hence the engagement to discuss how its enhance the positive effects and mitigate the negatives on the people.

He said, “The Abidjan – Lagos Corridor Road is a highway divided into three(3) Lots. Lot 1 is from Abidjan in Ivory Coast to Apemenim in the Western Region of Ghana. Lot 2 starts from Apemenim to Akanu in the Volta Region of Ghana and Lot 3 falls from Akanu to Lagos in Nigeria. PEARL Consultancy has been awarded Lot 2.

We are therefore here to gather information to do what we call scoping reports to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), ” He explained

According to him, “There are five Regions, Western, Central, Greater Accra, Eastern and Volta regions with 14 districts in all which have been captured within the alignment of the exercise. Sege, Koluedor, Adokorpe, Kasseh and communities along the road will be affected in the Ada West and East districts.”

Compensation

He said, “Because of this, ECOWAS will compensate owners of various properties that may be affected either in cash or in kind if only one can claim ownership of the said property with evidence of documentation, approved by the district assembly.

This action is in line with World Bank and African Developments Bank’s regulations and Ghanaian laws which reinforce the fact that property that will be destroyed should be replaced or, compensation must be awarded to the owner.”

Impacts

Both positive and negative impacts were realised during the open forum.

The stakeholders identified some positive impacts as, movement within and outside the district to other places like Tema, Accra, Abidjan, Togo and even Nigeria will be very easy and time saving.

They said, this move will attract businesses to the district and will also boost trading activities, economic activities will improve and will reduce the rate of accidents as drivers will be comfortable when driving,

Others expressed fears that prices of plots of land and rents would rise.

They said the development would bring about kidnapping, child abuse and other malpractices by foreigners in communities along the road.

Inputs

The stakeholders suggested that education on the exercise must reach every corner of the affected districts to create proper awareness to the indigenes to prevent distractions during the exercise.

Also, write ups on the exercise should be pasted at the various district assembly’s premises, church premises and even the community radio and information centres for clear understanding of everything.

They also wanted the assembly to make property registration flexible so that everyone could have access to documents backing the ownership of their properties.

Meanwhile, PEARL Consultancy is expected to finish their work in mid 2021.

Source: ghananewsagency.org

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