By Ernest KISSIEDU
Pressure group OccupyGhana has called on the Central Bank to apply the necessary sanctions on gold dealers, MenzGold if there is a breach against the laws of the bank.
“However, if the law has not been breached by MenzGold, and it is engaged in genuine business, then the Bank of Ghana’s statement is dangerous and has tthe potential to kill that business, unjustifiably,” the group noted in a press statement signed by Convenor, Ing. Nana Sarpong Agyeman-Badu.
According to OccupyGhana, there was news report last week that the Second Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana (BoG), Dr. Johnson Asiamah, had alleged that MenzGold was not licensed to conduct deposit-taking.
In addition, although the gold company was licensed by the Minerals Commission (MinCom) to trade in gold, it had deviated into accepting deposits from unsuspecting customers.
Yet in the same story, Dr. Asiamah had admitted there does not appear to be evidence that MenzGold was flouting the laws; yet, the central bank decided to still notify the public that MenzGold was not to accept deposits.
For this reason, OccupyGhana believed that if MenzGold was engaged in illegal deposit-taking or disguised as a gold trading/investment business, BoG does not appear to have exercised its powers under sections 20 to 22 of Act 930 at all.
“If MenzGold is breaching that Act then we expect the Bank to do more than issuing a warning statement. We expect the Bank to take the steps set out by law and apply the sanctions provided in the law for breaches if any,” the statement stressed.
Furthermore, OccupyGhana urged the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) and Minerals Commission (MinCom) to investigate the activities of MenzGold if they suspect any foul play in their business.
OccupyGhana thinks that the Bank has not yet determined whether the law has been broken or not.
“The BoG, SEC and MinCom have failed Ghana, by neglecting to take any of the statutory steps to ascertain whether MenzGold is involved in any illegal business, and then take control of its activities to ensure an orderly dismantling of it.”
“This includes ensuring that the actors are punished in accordance with the law. This inaction by the Bank, and the silence of both the SEC and MinCom, are shockingly unacceptable,” the statement said.
OccupyGhana opined that MenzGold denied it takes deposits, claiming that it was only engaged in the purchase and sale of gold.
Citing an instance, OccupyGhana indicated that the Precious Minerals Marketing Company (PMMC)’s 2016 – Third Party Gold Export records show that in 2016, the PMMC exported gold on behalf of an entity called “MenzBanc,” for 6 out of the 12 months.
The total weight of gold so exported was 3,217.834 ounces, with MenzBanc earning US$3,943,022.41 (GH¢15,742,662.18).
These exports were to Dubai, South Korea and Hong Kong, according to the records, and placed MenzBanc among one of the smallest exporters of gold through the PMMC.
“When one contrasts the above facts with the fantastic interest rates (“dividends”) that MenzGold promises and pays to its customers or clients, it is critical for Ghanaians to know whether MenzGold is really only dealing in gold, and if so whether the current business model complies with the terms and conditions of its gold dealing licence, if any.
“Ghanaians deserve to know whether the underlying gold transactions can support the promised rates of return; if not, then we have another potentially serious issue on our hands,” the pressure group added.
OccupyGhana is confident that BoG does not need any further reminder that the law empowers it to conduct forensic audit, demand the production of all books and instruct the freezing of assets as well as suspend the business.
However, the group emphasized the need for BoG to ensure the refund of all monies obtained and profits accrued, the return of all assets acquired as a result of the illegal activity, and the payment of interest that may be owed to people.
“The law adds that a person who fails to do these is deemed to be bankrupt and that the Bank has the power to apply to court for the winding up and sequestration of the estate of that person.”