The Minister of Justice and Attorney-General, Godfred Dame, has revealed that dockets on that financial crime perpetrated by Menzgold are almost ready for prosecution to commence.
According to him, the situation caused misery and distress to many homes and “unleashed a social crisis” as riots and demonstrations broke out on the streets of Accra and other parts of the country. He indicated that on a larger scale, people lost their homes and some marriages have even broken up as a result of the Menzgold saga.
“Indeed, one lawyer suggested that the story of Menzgold could cause a civil war in Ghana in a manner akin to the civil war in Albania in 1997 caused by aggrieved customers of a Ponzi scheme. By the Grace of God, Ghana was saved from such a situation as a result of the prompt action taken by authorities at the helm of the financial system. I am happy to state that after painstaking investigations, dockets on that financial crime are almost ready for prosecution to commence in earnest.”Godfred Dame
Mr Dame noted that the Office of the Attorney-General is prosecuting other high-profile cases involving the offences of “wilfully causing financial loss to the State, stealing, corruption, fraud, procurement breaches and money laundering”. These cases, he stated, have as their sole object, the principle of holding public officers to account and involve sums of over $850 million.
Speaking on the financial sector at Cambridge University, on Monday September 5, 2022, Mr Dame recounted that between August 2017 and January 2020, Ghana was hit by a severe banking crisis that affected several institutions and indigenous banks. Owing to this, he highlighted that the central bank ordered a take-over of some of the banks by the Ghana Commercial Bank.
The Central bank, he explained, cited the insolvency of the banks as a significant reason for revoking their licenses.
“Five indigenous banks were consolidated to form the Consolidated Bank Ghana Limited. A deeper examination of the banking crisis showed poor corporate governance, non-performing loans, breach of directors’ obligations, credit risks, and regulatory lapses were responsible for the vulnerabilities the banks were exposed to.”Godfred Dame
Financial sector clean-up
The Attorney-General emphasized that internal auditors who were required to superintend proper accounting practices were complacent and covered up Executive Directors. As such, the recent banking crisis held “ramifications for the entire economy”, as it was the most “severe economic crisis” to affect Ghana since independence.
Mr Dame revealed that another phenomenon that afflicted the financial sector of Ghana between 2018 and 2020 was the emergence of many unlicensed entities operating illegally. The leaders of such entities, he noted, often lived a lavish lifestyle on the proceeds of their illicit activities.
“Prominent among such entities was an amorphous organisation operating a microfinance institution under the guise of – guess what – gold trading and illegally using the name of a bank. It called itself Menzbank. Apparently, Menzgold, as it was also called, had been dealing in the purchase and deposit of gold collectibles from the public and issuing contracts with guaranteed returns to clients without a licence from the relevant authorities.”Godfred Dame
The Minister for Justice opined that against caution from the Central Bank, large number of of individuals “got hooked on the scheme” devised by Menzgold and following the close down of the company by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the customers could not retrieve their funds.
“The company relied on the greed and ignorance of thousands of otherwise hardworking Ghanaians who were prepared to pay their life savings to the suspects in the case, resulting in losses worth millions of dollars.”Godfred Dame