Ghana’s Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta has disclosed that at least GHS 200 million of depositors’ funds are locked up with embattled gold dealership firm, Menzgold Ghana Limited.
Thousands of Menzgold clients have demonstrated and filed lawsuits to compel the company to release their funds after the Securities and Exchange Commission shut down the company’s gold vault market operation over regulatory infractions.
Fifty-three soldiers decided to drag Menzgold to the High Court for failing to pay them a total investment of GHS2.5 million in early 2019.
Speaking to some personnel of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) after President Nana Akufo-Addo had donated 50 Ankai Buses to the army in Accra on Friday, 22 February 2019, Mr Ofori-Atta said: “I think we have come up with the realisation that maybe over GHS200 million is outstanding”.
He was responding to a question posed by army personnel on what the government was doing to help them retrieve the locked-up investments.
Mr Ofori-Atta added that the authorities are in the process of liquidating the properties of the CEO of Menzgold, Nana Appiah Mensah, and using the proceeds to pay the clients.
He, however, ruled out any monetary intervention using taxpayers’ money.
“He [Nana Appiah Mensah] has been apprehended in Dubai. I’m sure a committee will be put together to see how to liquidate [his assets] and whatever it is that can be found can be given to those who gave money,” Mr Ofori-Atta noted.
He was quick to add that: “The government is not going to be standing in for issues of this nature where we are very clear that it is not licenced and you know the risk that you have taken”.
Meanwhile, Mr Akufo-Addo has cautioned Ghanaians to be wary of investment opportunities that offer mouthwatering returns, as such schemes are often than not fraudulent.
Mr Akufo-Addo told the Armed Forces that: “This is speaking to all of us, in every society, every economy, there are returns on money which are considered normal and reasonable within the given society.
“People come and offer returns that are extraordinary, I’m pleading with you, be on your guard. Yes, as I sit here, I’ll like to get 15 per cent return on my small money every month, I’ll like that, but is that really safe?
“It is a plea I’m making, wherever you hear that: ‘Come and [invest], we’re going to give you money that is extraordinary in its returns’, you have to be careful about patronising it.
“These are the skills [they adopt] in our own country and all across the world and invariably they’ve been found to be very fraudulent. We’ve created a new body, the Financial Stability Council where all the people who regulate our financial system – Bank of Ghana, National Insurance Commission, Securities and Exchange Commission, National Pensions Regulatory Fund, all of them for the first time are going to have an institutional framework so that we sit together to look at the financial architecture of our country as a whole, so that the situation where somebody can come and say: ‘I’m not regulated by you and, therefore, you cannot touch me’, we’ll never have that situation in this country again.
“Everybody will be scrutinised. If you are not regulated by X or Y, the ministry will come in to make sure you are part of regulations. We have to have this situation in our country. There are going to be difficulties, I understand that, but at the end of the day there can be no substitute for hard work, creativity, innovation in the way we develop our economy, and if we have that collectively, I’m sure that there’s enough energy, enough ability, enough talents within the Ghanaian people for us to be able to cross that bridge to prosperity very soon…
“But we need to be disciplined, we need to hold fast to certain simple values, you make money because you have worked for it. It’s harsh that someone has put a lot of savings in a scheme that has gone Ponzi and then they come and here we are giving them this kind of lecture, but it is important. It is important for all of us to recognise that the person who comes with a [sweet song] that: ‘I can give you this and that’ which is not normal, that person almost certainly is singing you a song that will get you into trouble if you listen to him”.