Vice-President of Imani Africa, Bright Simons

The Vice President of IMANI Africa, Bright Simons, has asked whether celebrities who endorse controversial financial schemes should also be held accountable when things go awry.

His concern stems from the heated exchange between dancehall artiste, Stonebwoy, and media personality, Bridget Otoo, on Twitter on Monday, April 18, over financial and crypto schemes.

According to Mr. Bright Simons, some fans of the dancehall artiste, “seem worried about his seeming love for endorsing controversial financial & crypto schemes.”

The fracas broke when Bridget Otoo questioned why after the controversy Menzgold created, Stonebwoy, who was an ambassador for the scheme, has once again introduced his fans to another scheme named, SidiCoinNFT.

“You are part of the ambassadors of Menzgold who championed and led customers to lose money. Some have died as a result of the Menzgold scam. Do you think it is fair to introduce them to another “money making venture”? Do you really care about them?” she tweeted.

According to Stonebwoy, “the core problem of the Menzgold saga has the least to do with ambassadors, please you stand in a good position as a Media Personality to seek the reality from NAM1 and the government.”

In view of the disclosure, Mr. Simons asked, “should they (celebrities) have to add mandatory risk disclosure?” to ensure Ghanaians are protected.

Menzgold presents a timeline of the operations of Menzgold and its fights with regulators which later became a fight with its clients and now a fight with the law.

Oct 28, 2014: Bank of Ghana discovered, in a special exercise within the Central Region, that Menzbank was operating microfinance in Kasoa under the guise of gold trading and illegally using the name “Bank”.

Mar 11, 2015: BOG published a list of unlicensed entities operating illegality, including Menzbank. Menzbank then changed its name to “Menzbanc Ghana Company Limited”.

April 13, 2016:  BOG issued a notice to warn the general public against the deposit-taking operations of Menzbanc.

July 22, 2016: BOG wrote to Menzbanc cautioning it against its unlicensed deposit-taking activity.

Aug 2, 2016: BOG invited the Management of Menzbanc to a meeting on its unlicensed deposit-taking activity.

Aug 3, 2016: The company responded in writing and claimed that they were not engaging in deposit-taking activities.

Aug 16, 2016: The BoG contacted Minerals Commission and Precious Minerals Marketing Company (PMMC) on the license status of Menzbanc. Minerals Commission confirmed the company had a license only to ‘purchase gold locally… and to export same”. However, its licence with PMMC had expired.

Feb 13, 2017:  BoG held another meeting with representatives of the company.

Jul 19, 2017: BoG issued another caution letter to the company to desist from taking further deposits. Menzbanc then changed its name to Menzgold. It also informed the BOG of its subsidiary by the name “Brew Marketing Limited” where clients were directed to go and purchase the gold and deposit it with Menzgold for “dividends”.

Sept 19, 2017: Minerals Commission wrote a letter to Menzgold titled “Unauthorised Business Activities,” pointing out to Menzgold that it was in breach of the law and that Brew Marketing had not been registered as a licensed buying agent.

Jun 2018: BoG conducted a joint visit with Minerals Commission to licensed gold traders and refineries in Accra to understand the nature of their operations. The team established that all the companies were engaged in smelting and exporting of gold with the exception of Menzgold that is engaged in the solicitation of deposits from the general public with interest rate between 7% -10% per month to customers based on the quantity of gold purchased.

Aug 6, 2018: BoG issues another warning to the general public over Menzgold, but its CEO responded on twitter jabbing the regulator to focus on failed banks.

Aug 14, 2018: Nana Appiah Mensah apologises to Bank of Ghana and said Menzgold is cooperating with the regulator to find an amicable solution.

Sept 7, 2018: SEC ordered Menzgold Ghana Limited to stop trading in gold collectibles, letting off panic and anxiety among clients.

Sept 12, 2018:  Menzgold workers manhandle Joy News reporter, pregnant TV3 journalist covering another siege at company premises.

Sep 13, 2018: Menzgold requests for sit down with Securities and Excahnge Commission (SEC). But SEC sets bring-some-documents conditions for the meeting which Menzgold rejects.

Sept 14, 2018: A group calling itself the Coalition of Concerned Youth of Ghana (COCYOGH) hit the streets of Kasoa in the Central Region to demonstrate against what they describe as the harassment of Menzgold.

Sep 19, 2018: Menzgold customers issue threats as investments lock up.

Sept 27, 2018: Menzgold sues BoG, SEC accusing the regulators of abuse of office and causing considerable reputational damage to the company.

Nov 21, 2018:  Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta rules out bail-out for Menzgold clients, he says greed motivated clients to invest their monies in Menzgold.

Nov 27, 2018:  Customers demonstrate against Menzgold Ghana Limited despite calls from the company to call it off.

Dec 4, 2018: Statement from Menzgold directing all staff to proceed on leave and return to work on December 20.