Dr Assibey-Yeboah (left) addressing the press yesterday with the minority leader, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu (middle) and a deputy minority chief whip, Baffour Awuah looking on

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) Minority in Parliament has asked the government to immediately reverse the sale of Merchant Bank because the whole deal does not only stink but constitutes a gargantuan scam that will go to short-change Ghanaians.

The Minority said the government cannot afford to sell a whole national bank with stated capital of GH?68million to a relatively unknown Fortiz Equity Fund, which does not have any experience in banking, with a stated capital of just GH?5million.

?The whole deal is a scam and a fraud being perpetrated on the Ghanaian people because Fortiz was registered and incorporated in June 2013 and by its capitalisation did not even qualify for a non-bank financial institution licence,? the Minority said at a press conference yesterday.

The NPP Minority said the situation where Fortiz was to acquire 90 per cent of Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) majority share was the most bizarre and fraudulent deal since Alfred Agbesi Woyome hoodwinked  a former Attorney-General, Betty Mould-Iddrisu, and swindled the Ghanaian taxpayer of GH?51.2 million for no work done.

?Even though no agreement has been signed between Fortiz and other stakeholders, the Bank of Ghana has gone ahead to give approval for the sale. This is a scam,? Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah, who read the Minority?s statement, said.

The Minority said what was more worrying was that Merchant Bank was being sold to  Fortiz at a time President Mahama?s brother, Ibrahim Mahama, was owing the bank to the tune of GH?58million, which is over half of Fortiz?s asking price.

?The circumstances leading to the sale leaves a lot of sour taste in the mouths of well-meaning Ghanaians because if the initial sale of the bank to First Rand Bank of South Africa took four months for all negotiations to take place then how can a whole take-over just take three days?? Dr Assibey-Yeboah questioned.

The Minority said it could not understand why First Rand Bank of South Africa, which was ready to invest $91million or GH?199million in exchange for 75 per cent shareholding in the bank was denied that opportunity for Fortiz to come and buy it on a silver platter.

According to the Minority, First Rand Bank, which had been in existence for 15 years, is the second largest bank in South Africa and has assets in excess of $103billion and has almost eight times the total assets of the banking industry, yet the FRB deal, which was by all standards a better deal, was rejected by SSNIT.

The Minority said it was not against a Ghanaian company taking over the Merchant Bank per se but the whole deal was a very bad one indeed.

?If we want to sell the Merchant Bank to a Ghanaian, why couldn?t we have sold it to UT Bank or the Fidelity Bank which are wholly Ghanaian owned and could have given better offers for the take-over,? the Minority queried.

The Minority, therefore, said from the foregoing, it was very clear that there were ?unseen? hands directing that the Merchant Bank be disposed of at that ridiculous price.

?How can it be better to hold eight per cent of GH?90milliion offered by Fortiz and not 23 per cent of GH?199milliion offered by First Rand Bank?? the Minority demanded and queried Fortiz?s source of financing for this ?unwholesome? deal.

The Minority noted that apart from the financial ?loss? to the state, workers of the bank were also going to be laid off as a result of the take-over, thus worsening the already bad unemployment situation in the country.

?Ladies and gentlemen of the press, the looting brigade of the ruling government are still at it again and this time round, our future savings with the SSNIT scheme has been hit by the ?create, loot and share? syndrome of this government,? the Minority stated.

 By Thomas Fosu Jnr

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