Rev Daniel Ogbarmey Tetteh is Director-General of Securities and Exchange Commission

A press statement issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Wednesday, November 18, 2020, regarding the payment of locked-up funds to customers of defunct Fund Management Companies, states inter alia, “The government’s commitment (to pay part of locked-up funds) is predicated on its commitment to protecting its citizenry and its sensitivity to the plight of affected clients compounded by the disruptive impact of the Covid-19 pandemic”.

Standing on the above, therefore, one can conveniently say that if any Christmas gift should hit a senior citizen whose investment has been locked up for over a year now, it would be what SEC is telling all the disappointed customers. Just imagine for a moment having your hard-earned money invested in a fund one trusted so much and then when one needs it most, one is told they could not access the money. Painful it is.

Press statement

The information contained in SEC’s press statement monitored by Citi FM news last Wednesday said that the government had approved partial payment of up to ¢50,000 to customers of Black Shields Fund Management, formerly Gold Coast Fund Management. 

In SEC’s press statement, all others whose funds have still been locked up in the various defunct management companies which are in the process of liquidation would also be paid.

The news is very sweet to the ears of those with locked up monies. I forwarded the Citi FM news publication on SEC’s press statement to family and friends home and abroad who I know invested in Black Shields and some of the responses I received read: “Good news. At least there is the beginning of some movement”. Another said, “Ei, good news!”, and yet another response, “Is this true, at long last!” “Positive news, hope it’s not fake news”.

Welcome news

So definitely, SEC’s announcement is most welcome news, indeed, one which has come late but better than nothing. Since 2019 when the regulator revoked the licenses of as many as 53 Fund Management Companies, some investors clapped the loudest because they thought their days of anxious expectations with blood pressures climbing up consistently, had come to an end.

It had been a long wait for investors, especially the senior citizens among them. Little did anyone imagine that they were going to bed and be woken up with such news to end their anxious moments.

Trust

The fact is investors who put their monies in these defunct companies did so with a lot of trust. They trusted the managers of those companies and above all trusted that there was a regulator who was policing their operations and corporate culture. 

The investors committed their retirement packages and other payouts to the Fund Management Companies believing that when they eventually went on retirement, their investments would work for them. Now their trust has been betrayed.

There is now everything to show that even where regulators exist to monitor the activities and corporate culture of the Fund Management Companies, such monitoring duties do not always happen as expected. That no doubt are some of the lapses that led the regulator, SEC, to stop the activities of the defunct Companies.

Now the needless anxious moments that have lasted for over a year has sent out very strong signals to would-be investors making some to swear never again. Yes, never again would a pensioner, knowing that pensions in this country are generally low, would put their excess monies in the hands of a fund management company.  Their trust has waned somewhat.

Promised part-payment

Though the wish of customers would have been that SEC pays all of their locked-down monies, nonetheless, as SEC prepares to pay out the promised part-payment of ¢50,000, my appeal to the regulator is to give priority payment to senior citizens or retirees, devoid of unnecessary bureaucracies.

Unfortunately, some of the investors, who, with alacrity went to queue to submit their documents for validation, have sadly passed on since.  They will not see this much awaited day.  May the confidence of those who are left never be frustrated or shattered. 

The payments should flow in the coming days because Christmas is near and shopping must be done. That is the prayer of some senior citizens whose locked up monies are about to be released.

According to SEC, payment of the amount would commence while the court process on the liquidation petition and other related matters continue.  Once all that is over, SEC’s promise to aggrieved investors is that any balances left would be paid after the court processes are concluded.

What good news to go to bed with for those who have been waiting anxiously.

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The writer’s can be contacted via email: vickywirekoandoh@yahoo.com