Banking and Corporate Governance Consultant, Dr. Richmond Akwasi Atuahene, has attributed Bank of Ghana’s delay in tracing and retrieving assets belonging to the defunct UT, Unibank, and Capital bank, to lack of pro-activeness.
According to him, the Central bank has not been serious with its handling of the effects of the banking sector collapse, hence in the compounding problems four years on.
He stated that it would have been prudent for the government agencies to learn from such mistakes going forward and put in place measures to avoid the recurrence of same.
“We don’t learn from a lot of things that have happened to us, and I believe that we should begin to learn and ensure that speedy actions are taken,” he said.
Citing an example from Nigeria, the Banking Consultant stated that when a similar incident occurred, it took less than four years to swiftly deal with the problem – tracing, retrieving and appropriately disposing of the assets.
“I mean if it was in Nigeria, let me quote Economic Crime Commission in Nigeria, when they were dealing with ‘Mrs. Egburu’, it never took four years. What is it that the Nigerians were able to do to recover and imprison, why haven’t we been able to do it?
“Is it because we have a different law? Or the laws are explicit to deal with people who have actually caused financial loss of 25 billion. And it’s serious and I think going forward we have to be serious about the way we do things, other than that, all these things that we’re talking about are not going to yield any effective results,” he said.
He advised that Ghanaian institutions take some lessons from Nigeria on how to deal with financial and economic crime in order to forestall such issues from escalating as they have done.
“I believe that we need as a nation, to be very serious about these economic and financial crime issue. And even if we need to look at our laws, what has the Nigerians done over the years which we haven’t done.
“If we do that, we’ll be able to improve on this recovery, the asset tracing, lack of recovery and all these things,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Eric Nana Nipa, Director of PricewaterhouseCoopers – Ghana, has revealed that the Bank of Ghana has joined forces with the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) to trace and retrieve the remaining assets.
However, Dr. Atuahene is of the view that, the Bank of Ghana reaching out to EOCO at such a later date is rather unfortunate.
Referring to the Nigerian incident, he said, “their Economic Crime Office was the first party brought on board to help retrieve assets, rather than calling on them at a later date like some afterthought.”
“Now they’re getting EOCO to get involved. Maybe they should have done that earlier to be able to track all these assets, to be able to dispose of it, to reduce the indebtedness which is about 4% to 4.5% of the GDP. And I believe that going forward we must learn and begin to be more proactive .
“We should have gone to EOCO day one,” he stressed.
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