An Accra Fast Track High Court has adjourned hearing of the case in which the Centre for Freedom and Accuracy is challenging the sale of Merchant Bank to private equity fund, Fortiz, to December 5, 2013.
This was after Mr. Peter Hayibor, counsel for Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) told the court presided over by Justice L.L Mensah that, his client was served late and therefore pleaded for time to study the suit to enable them enter appearance.
Joy News' Anny Osabutey reports that there was no representation for the Bank of Ghana as well as Fortiz Equity Fund.
The Bank of Ghana has approved the deal for Fortiz to pay 90 million cedis for a 90 per cent stake in Merchant Bank. Critics say the deal is fraudulent because Fortiz does not have the needed capital to turn around the fortunes of the ailing state asset.
Centre for Freedom and Accuracy is asking the court to place an injunction on the deal.
State pension fund manager, SSNIT, recently issued a statement explaining, among other things, that the deal with Fortiz went through because Fortiz was willing to immediately recover at least 30% of Merchant's debts, while they work clearing the remaining 70% subsequently.
But Executive Director of the Centre for Freedom and Accuracy, Mr Andrew Awuni,said on Metro TV's Good Evening Ghana on Tuesday that "First Rand wanted to treat the bad debt of Merchant Bank separately…so that it does not interfere with the first capital injection into Merchant Bank".
"Rand Bank was prepared to finance the recovery of the bad debt. Rand Bank offered to pay all the salaries…all the administrative cost for the recovery. Rand Bank was prepared, upon the advice of the Bank of Ghana, to hire UT [Collections], together with existing shareholders, to recover the monies…that is what is in the books", Mr Awuni told show host, Paul Adom Otchere.
He added that under the circumstances, whatever capital First Rand injected into Merchant would have been swallowed by the bad debt, indicating that the South African bank made the right move.
Mr Awuni also refuted claims that the Merchant Asset Recovery Fund, created to collect Merchant's loans, already separated the bank from the loans, a move First Rand had requested.
"If it was true that Merchant bank had already taken care of the debt, and the debt is no longer part of the bank, then why are we discussing the debt?", he quizzed.
Mr Andrew Awuni believes SSNIT's deal with Fortiz is not value for money.