Chief Justice caught in drama over collapsed banks

Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo, on Monday surprised many people following the uniCredit Savings and Loans Company case against the Bank of Ghana (BoG) over the recent revocation of its license, when she changed the High Court Judge sitting on the case filed by a shareholder of the company, leaving the courtroom with lots of unprintable speculations.

The case was placed before the Human Rights Court presided over by Justice Nicholas Abodakpi, who started hearing on August 26, 2019, and adjoined it to September 2, to enable BoG respond to the writ, having pleaded late service.

However, lawyers for Kwame Ohene Boakye, the plaintiff, were shocked to discover that the case had been taken away from Justice Abodakpi by the Chief Justice and handed over to another High Court Judge; Justice George Kingsley Koomson, to start afresh.

Ahead of this sudden change, The Herald is privy to phone calls, secret meetings by officials of BoG, a National Security invitations with Minister of State at National Security, Brian Acheampong, the Director of Operations at National Security, Colonel Michael Kwadwo Opoku, the National Security Coordinator, Joshua Kyeremeh and Charles Nii TeikoTagoe, a Presidential Staffer at Jubilee House present all in an attempts to have the case dropped.

The plaintiff, who is also a lawyer by profession, has confirmed the interesting developments to The Herald, since he filed the writ.

The Herald’s checks at the court, has also revealed that the Justice Abodakpui, has since been sent packing to Ho, the Volta Region regional capital.

Kwame Boakye, is asking the High Court Human Right division to quash the Central Bank’s August 15, 2019, decision declaring Unicredit Ghana Limited insolvent and revoking its license to operate as a specialized deposit institution,

Multiple court officials familiar with the matter told The Herald that lawyer of BoG led by Accra-based lawyer, Frank Davies, had last week filed an application challenging the Human Right Court’s jurisdiction to hear the matter, but instead of allowing Justice Abodakpui to rule on the matter of jurisdiction, he was written to late last week, to hand over all cases before him and leave for Ho.

What makes this more bizarre is that ahead of the trial, court clerks were not prepared to receive and process the writ submitted to them on August 19, saying they had been warned not to accept any writ against BoG, especially coming Dr. Kwabena Duffour, owner of Unicredit and Unibank.

The Herald is informed that there were back and forth between officials of the High Court Registry and a clerk from Mr Ohene Boakye’s lawyers, until one of the lawyers stormed the Court Complex in Accra, with a threat to go to the media over the matter.

With the documents filed, serving officials of BoG equally became a challenge with security men and receptionists, saying they had been warned not to allow bailiffs to serve writs on the Central bank.

This led to the bailiff waiting and dropping the court documents in the car of an officer of BoG, who eventually agreed to sign as the necessary papers as proof of service.

With writ served on BoG, some seniors officers, including Dr. Maxwell Opoku-Afari, and Elsie Addo Awadzi, the First and Second Deputy Governors, put out a scheme to have Mr Ohene Boakye drop the case. As telephone calls could not yield any result, a meetings was scheduled at Kwabenya in the home of another officer of the BoG, who is related to the plaintiff.

With the Kwabenya secret meeting also failing to yield any result, Mr Ohene Boakye, was summoned to the National Security with Brian Acheampong, Col. Opoku, Mr. Kyeremeh with the surprise personality there Charles Nii Teiko Tagoe present.

The Herald was told Charles Nii Teiko Tagoe’s attempted to interrogate Mr Boakye, but was rebuffed by the plaintiff and the meeting ended inconclusively, because Ohene Boakye, according to The Herald’s National Security sources, decided to be uncooperative.

In court on Monday, Justice Koomson, adjourned the case to September 19, 2019 as a result of the inability of the BoG to serve lawyers of uniCredit with a motion they filed relating to the case.The new Presiding Judge, requested that both parties serve each other with all the processes in other to expedite the hearing.

The shareholders of uniCredit, Hoda Holdings and CDH, sued the Bank of Ghana and its governor, Dr. Ernest Addison, after the central bank revoked the license of the company.They want the court to quash the BoG’s revocation of their license which declared uniCredit as insolvent, thus compelling the company to cease operations.

Lawyer Emmanuel Darkwa and Frank Davies are the lawyers for BoG, while Lawyer Kwasi Adu-Mante is lawyer for Kwame Ohene Boakye. Aside asking the revocation quashed, Kwame Ohene Boakye also a shareholder, wants the court to refer the matter to arbitration.

The writ sighted by The Herald, said that the company cannot be described as insolvent, because it had an estimated GHc54 Million with Unibank, which had been taken over by BoG as part of the Consolidated Bank, and the majority shareholder of Unibank is in court with the same BoG fighting to have Unibank, back.

It explained that on March 20, 2018, the BoG, had appointed an administrator under Act 930 to take over and streamline the activities of Unibank.

The said appointment placed restriction on HODA Holdings, which gravely affected the company’s financial situation, but attempt are under way to retrieve the company’s investment with the Consolidated Bank.

Aside, a GHC54 million, Unicredit’s investment totaling an estimated GHC 164 million is also held by Unisecurities Ghana Limited, however, the said investment with Unisecurity, were impaired with the capital adequacy ratio contrary to the regulatory standards set by the BoG as a result of the takeover of Unibank.

The lawyers insisted that, BoG is aware of the situation Unicredit finds itself, as a result of BoG’s restrictions on the company to access its own funds through the receiver appointed to oversee the transaction occasioned by the revocation of Unibank license, yet went ahead to revoke the license of Unicredit.

The writ said that BoG, had acted beyond it powers under Act 930 by unduly interfering in the affairs of the Unicredit by revoking its license, adding the central bank’s inexplicable attitude, points directly to a premeditated agenda to cause it a grave economic hardship.

The writ insisted that as at August 16, 2019, Unicredit, was solvent in terms of Act 930.Ohene Boakye, described the decision by the BoG, as arbitrary, malicious and capricious, because it contravene the Constitution of Ghana.

Unicredit, further insisted that at no point in time, did BoG indicate to them that the company, had become insolvent to warrant a revocation of its license based on empirical facts, adding BoG’s action is purely on deductions informed by deliberate creation of an extreme difficult financial situation to induce the company and its shareholders to give away Unicredit.

The writ said Ohene Boakye, stands to lose gravely if the decision of the BoG is not quash by the High Court, adding that unless the Supreme Court restrains BoG, it agents, assigns will go ahead and take control and interfere with the operations of the company, to his detriment and the detriment of depositors of the company.

In announcing the revocation of the license of uniCredit last month, the Bank of Ghana said the savings and loans company’s adjusted net worth was negative GH¢221.32 million as of the end of May 2019 and revealed that its paid-up capital was impaired in violation of Section 28(1) Act 930.

The BoG report also said uniCredit’s adjusted capital adequacy ratio of negative 97.83percent as of the end of May 2019 was in violation of Section 29(2) of Act 930.

“This was mainly due to the non-performing related party exposures of GH¢160.10 million to uniSecurities which is far in excess of its negative net worth.”

“The institution has been breaching the statutory cash reserve ratio requirement since April 2018 while also it was unable to meet the deposit withdrawals of customers due to its severe liquidity challenges. The BoG received many complaints from the institution’s customers about their inability to access their funds. And the institution had a high percentage of non-performing loans,” BoG’s report remarked.

But in its affidavit, challenging the Central Bank’s decision in court, Hoda Holdings, said its funds of over GHC54 million were locked up with Unibank before it was forced to cease operations by the Bank of Ghana in 2018 and it has since been trying to retrieve it.

More to come!

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