Heritage Bank Ghana Limited was the only solvent bank that was deliberately targeted and collapsed by the Bank of Ghana and no amount of lies and propaganda churned out by Assin Central MP Kennedy Agyapong on his NET2 TV station can change that fact, pressure group Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA) has said.
A statement signed by Mr Mensah Thompson, Executive Director of ASEPA, in response to some “blatant lies” told by Mr Agyapong and “two of his protégés” on his TV station on 19 August 2020, said the lawmaker and the two others betrayed their “collective ignorance” about the circumstances that “led to the illegal and unfair withdrawal of Heritage Bank’s licence on 4th January 2019”.
The three had alleged on NET2 TV that the majority shareholder of Heritage Bank, Mr Seidu Agongo, had dribbled the Bank of Ghana by recycling nonexistent funds into deceiving the regulator as having met the minimum capital requirement at the time.
ASEPA, however, said in its statement that: “Now, this is the height of ignorance, although it falls in line with a particular narrative”.
It added: “As a form of education to Ken Agyapong, his sorry mentees and the other hypocrites, nobody can use nonexistent capital or funds to start and therefore capitalise a bank. This is especially so when some of those funds are needed to rent and or procure fixed infrastructure such as buildings, office furniture, ICT equipment and software, among others for the start of the bank”.
“Perhaps, it is needless to say that Ken Agyapong’s recent outbursts is a well-staged attempt to white-wash the evil deeds of a partisan Governor of the Bank of Ghana, a cruel Minister of Finance and a treacherous President, who presided over what is the single most cruel act of destruction any government has ever perpetrated on its indigenous businessmen”, Mr Thompson said.
Read ASEPA’s full statement below:
The banking sector collapse has evidently become an albatross on this Government’s neck and it is desperately looking for another neck to unleash this albatross that has become like a diabetic sore, doesn’t seem to go away unto.
It is also clear that the vile collapse of Heritage Bank Ghana Limited in 2019 and other Ghanaian-owned financial institutions continues to haunt the perpetrators of this heinous crime and the lead architects have become so desperate that they will never miss any opportunity to cover their evil deeds in the eyes of the Ghanaian public.
As usual, they have commissioned the lawless Member of Parliament for Assin Central, Mr Kennedy Agyapong, to be going round spewing blatant falsehoods and hoping the ordinary Ghanaian will not see through their lies and hopeless propaganda and hoping that the narrative would change in their favour (and they need that so badly as we gear towards the 2020 General Elections because the over 5million victims of their cruel actions are impatiently waiting to punish them severely and there is nothing they can do about it)
If you will recall, on the 19th August 2020 the lawless MP, in his signature way, joined two other people to spew blatant lies and project collective ignorance about the circumstances which they claim led to the illegal and unfair withdrawal of Heritage Bank’s licence on 4th January 2019.
Perhaps, it is needless to say that Ken Agyapong’s recent outbursts are a well-staged attempt to white-wash the evil deeds of a partisan Governor of the Bank of Ghana, a cruel Minister of Finance and a treacherous President who presided what is the single most cruel act of destruction any Government has ever perpetrated on its indigenous businessmen.
Before anyone attempts to swallow the brazen lies of Ken Agyapong and his rented cohorts, here are few facts to be abreast with;
HERITAGE BANK WAS THE ONLY SOLVENT BANK COLLAPSED
Before we delve into the details of the bank’s establishment, its capitalisation and status prior to its cruel collapse, let’s set the record straight by stating emphatically that of all the banks that were collapsed under the so-called cleanup, only Heritage Bank was solvent amongst them. In other words, the bank was profitable, liquid and financially sound.
it was able to meet its withdrawal demands from customers and it continued to service its obligations in earnest. The bank was generally bubbly and on the path of becoming one of the most profitable indigenous banks only for the Bank of Ghana to cut its promising future short. As a matter of fact, the Bank of Ghana even admitted Heritage Bank’s solvent nature in the statement that announced the revocation of the bank’s licence! (how revealing)
Also, the Bank of Ghana had sought to capitalize on the solvent, solid, clean, credible, profitable and promising nature including the brand of Heritage Bank to save one of its favourite dying banks in the system by asking for a merger between Heritage and the Universal Merchant Bank (UMB). However, after the necessary due diligence by KPMG, the competent Board of the Heritage Bank, which was chaired by the venerable Prof. Kwesi Botchwey, and the bank’s management noticed that UMB was financially weak and poorly governed and would, therefore not be a good partner to merge with. Consequently, the Prof. Kwesi Botchwey-led Board of Heritage Bank told the Bank of Ghana in a meeting chaired by the Governor that it could not merge its reputable and solid bank with a weak and poorly governed bank.
Even though Governor Dr Addison admitted the reason to decline the merger, he later turned round to revoke the license of the very strong bank it wanted to merge with another dying bank to save it.
HOW HERITAGE BANK WAS CAPITALISED
Now, there’s been so much lies about the capitalisation of Heritage bank, for the avoidance of doubt let the propagandists led by Ken Agyapong open their ears…
Ken Agyapong, just like all the other government propagandists, sought to create the impression that the promoters and, later shareholders of Heritage Bank, used nonexistent funds to set up the bank.
Now this is the height of ignorance, although it falls in line with a particular narrative.
As a form of education to Ken Agyapong, his sorry mentees and the other hypocrites, nobody can use nonexistent capital or funds to start and therefore capitalise a bank. This is especially so when some of those funds are needed to rent and or procure fixed infrastructure such as buildings, office furniture, ICT equipment and software, among others for the start of the bank.
In the case of Heritage Bank, evidence abound that the Bank of Ghana directed the promoters of the Heritage Bank to open an account with the Bank of Ghana and deposit the required stated capital in it. As a result, the Bank of Ghana has records of how the bank was established and later capitalized to the tune of GHS125 million, way in excess of the GHS120 million minimum stated capital requirement at the time, but because of political expediency and an attempt to cleanse itself of the irredeemable damage, it continuous to lie and aid its assigns to do same about the capitalization of the bank.
The funds that were used to capitalise the Heritage Bank were transferred to the Heritage Bank account in the Bank of Ghana on two separate occasions. The first amount of GHS90 million was transferred by Stanbic Bank Ghana Limited on behalf of the Heritage Bank on 30th December, 2016. The transfer reference number was 000000553230.
Ken Agyapong, who has suddenly become an investigator and parading with supposed fake documents is hereby challenged, to let his sources at the Bank of Ghana deny the above facts.
Apart from the GHS90 million, the Bank of Ghana also approved that an additional GHS35 million, being part of the capital be used to rent and/or purchase infrastructure such as office buildings, furniture and other furnishings, information and technology (IT) equipment, among others to enable the bank to start operations. Part of this GHS35 million was used to rent office spaces at the Airport City (the first floor of the NCA Building, which was the Head Office), East Legon and Dzorwulu to house the bank’s operations in its formative years.
For the avoidance of doubt, these renting of premises and purchases, which were supervised and approved by the Bank of Ghana constituted part of the capitalisation of the bank in compliance with the requirements of the Banks and Specialised Deposit-Taking Institutions Act, 2016 (Act 930). In effect, the Heritage Bank started operations with a stated capital of GHS125 million.
So, why is Ken Agyapong lying shamelessly to smear the hard earned reputation of a Ghanaian businessman?
SEIDU AGONGO DOESN’T HAVE EXPERTISE IN BANKING
Another misguided logic that Ken Agyapong and his protégés used in their rant was to question the expertise of Seidu Agongo, the significant shareholder of the Heritage Bank in operating a bank. In the minds of the trio, any person who owns a bank needs to be a trained banker. Going by that logic, it goes without saying that anybody in Parliament must be a trained lawyer since they make laws there but as we know, Kennedy Agyapong is nowhere closer to the law school. Similarly, Kennedy Agyapong has other businesses in various sectors of the economy where he knows next to nothing about what happens in those industries but that is really not the issue here.
The issue here is that entrepreneurs do not need to be experts in where they invest; they need to have the expert eyes to hunt and recruit experts and technical minds in sectors that they invest in to manage those businesses. This explains why Seidu Agongo, in his infinite yet humbling wisdom on entrepreneurship recruited the astute and internationally acclaimed economist and seasoned financial and governance expert, Prof. Kwesi Botchwey to chair the Board of Directors of the Heritage Bank. On that board were also people of various expertise whose experiences resulted in the efficiency in the bank’s operations and the impact it made in the banking sector within that short period of time.
The same applied to the management team, led by the respected Patrick Edwin Fiscian. Patrick is a chartered accountant of repute and a seasoned banking executive.
It is, however, instructive to state that Seidu Agongo was neither a member of the management nor a member of the Board of Directors of the bank and at no particular time did the Bank of Ghana notice any form of interference by him in the running of the Bank (obviously because there was none). These were excellent governance structures that ensured that the bank delivered stellar services to customers as the foundational stone to becoming the African giant that it was envisaged to become.
EVIDENCE OF EVIL AGAINST SEIDU AGONGO THE MAJOR SHAREHOLDER OF HERITAGE BANK
While we urge Kennedy Agyapong and his protégés to purge themselves of the deliberate deceit and the lies, let it be known to them in clear terms that for each of the allegations levelled against the Heritage Bank by the Bank of Ghana and the government, their ‘favourite’ banks that are still in existence ‘committed’ and are still ‘committing’ worse ‘offences’ yet they have been left to operate.
1. Heritage Bank overexposed to Seidu Agongo, the significant shareholder, warranting the withdrawal of the licence: It is instructive to note that Seidu Agongo owned 70 per cent of the Bank prior to its collapse. In 2016 when the licence was granted, the Bank of Ghana directed that he reduces his shareholding of the Bank within four years. Efforts to comply with this directive were ongoing in earnest when the licence was revoked, barely three years into its existence. The curious thing, however, is that during and after the collapse of the Heritage Bank, banks in operation have one shareholder owning more than 70% of them.
A): Omni Bank: one shareholder, Mr Joseph Siaw Agyepong, owned 99% of the Omni Bank, which survived the Bank of Ghana’s highhanded clean up and recapitalisation exercises to successfully merge with Sahel Sahara Bank and become today’s Omni-BSIC Bank. Prior to the merger, the remaining 1% of the now-defunct Omni Bank was owned by the wife of Siaw Agyepong, the shareholder who owned 99%. Therefore, Mr Agyapong and Mrs Cynthia Araba Agyapong were the ONLY shareholders of the bank.
B). One shareholder, the Fortiz Equity Fund owns 96% of the Universal Merchant Bank (UMB) Limited. However, the bank was recommended to Heritage Bank for a merger and later survived the Bank of Ghana’s clean up and recapitalisation exercises and currently in operation.
The table below gives a clearer picture of the situation and vindicates the point that Heritage Bank was targeted for collapse.
BANK MAJOR SHAREHOLDER % OF SHAREHOLDING
National Investment Bank (NIB) Government of Ghana 100
Consolidated Bank Ghana (CBG) Government of Ghana 100
Omni Bank Joseph Siaw Agyapong 99
Universal Merchant Bank (UMB) Fortiz Equity Fund 96
Heritage Bank Limited Seidu Agongo 70
HERITAGE BANK COULDN’T RECAPITALISE TO GHS400M
Another lame excuse from the people who masterminded and withdrew the license of the Heritage Bank is that the bank could not raise the GHS400 million required of all banks as of December 2018. While that is true, Heritage Bank was not the only bank that could not meet the recapitalisation deadline. Five other banks failed to meet the requirement but were bailed out under a transaction that raises more questions than answers.
The Prudential Bank, UMB, National Investment Bank, Agricultural Development Bank and Omnic-BSIC Bank each failed to raise the required capital as of December 2018 but were given a special dispensation under the Ghana Amalgamated Trust arrangement to go through the deadline. It was only until late last year that the Trust was able to raise the funds to recapitalize four of the banks. Even as we speak, the NIB, which is a state-owned bank, is yet to meet that capital requirement. In fact, the bank’s capital is in the negative yet it is in existence although Heritage Bank lost its license to this same flimsy excuse.
SEIDU AGONGO AND ALL INDIGENOUS BUSINESSMEN WHO WERE TARGETTED UNDER THIS CRUEL CLEAN UP WILL BOUNCE BACK!
From the above, it is obvious that the Heritage Bank was targeted and collapsed and no amount of propaganda or PR can undo that same for uniBank and several other banks that were cruelly taken down and not even the arrogant display of ignorance and lame rants by Ken Agyapong can change this narrative.
It is a fact that will remain and continue to haunt the NPP and its ilks, especially President Akufo-Addo, Dr Bawumia, Ken Ofori-Atta and Dr Addison for as long as they live on this earth.
It is said that under Akufo-Addo, Ghana is suffering from an unprecedented decadence in almost every aspect of life and society. There is no era in the history of Ghana when entrepreneurship and the private sector have suffered such levels of vile attacks from the state and its assigns as what happened between 2017 and 2019. Within the period, genuine businesses and their owners were targeted and collapsed, their contracts were frozen and/or taken from them and payments for services rendered to the state have been stopped, all because of parochial interest.
To those who ignorantly defend these vices, may heaven show mercy on them, for now, it is has become a national responsibility and a civic to restore these businessmen whose only crime was to create jobs for the teaming young people of this Country to their old glory to continue creating the jobs the young people need so badly to survive.
We continue to pray for these businessmen every day and we God strengthens them in these difficult times!
Executive Director, ASEPA
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