The former Board of Directors of now defunct Heritage Bank Limited (HBL), has lamented claims by the Bank of Ghana (BoG) that it set up the bank with suspicious capital and that the central bank has done them a ‘grave injustice’ by revoking its license.
Last week, the Bank of Ghana (BoG) revoked the license of Heritage Bank stating that the bank had a questionable stated capital aside their inability to meet the new 400 million minimum capital requirement.Governor of the BoG, Dr. Ernest Addison also mentioned that the promoters of Heritage bank provided evidence to Bank of Ghana at the time of the application for a banking licence to the effect that an amount totaling GHC 120.6 million was lodged with a local bank.
“The amount of GHC 120 million was transferred to the bank from Agricult, a company wholly owned by Seidu Agongo, a promoter of Heritage, which funds appear to have been derived from contracts awarded to Mr. Agongo by COCOBOD, and are currently the basis of criminal prosecution in the High Court of Ghana”.
But in a statement sighted by citinewsroom.com on Tuesday, the former directors of Heritage Bank said the central bank failed to adequately provide them with the necessary assistance after several engagements, adding that the action by the BoG is “a terrible precedent that does not bode well for the future.”
“Heritage Bank was by the Bank of Ghana’s own admission a solvent bank. It never received liquidity support from the Bank of Ghana. Its corporate governance record had never been impugned by the Bank of Ghana. We believe we have been done a grave injustice and a terrible precedent set that does not bode well for the future. We have dealt herein only with matters affecting the Board’s responsibilities that needed to be clarified to set the record straight, and this, without prejudice to whatever legal options the shareholders may wish to avail themselves of in order to get justice for the even greater harm done to them.”
Responding to claims by the Governor of the Central Bank that, the involvement of the bank’s majority shareholder, Mr. Seidu Agongo in the ongoing alleged fraudulent Cocobod fertilizer contract trial, means he’s unfit to hold a banking license, the former directors stated that those assertions are even questionable.
“We find it puzzling that the Bank of Ghana should now be disputing the existence of a contract between HBL’s main shareholder and COCOBOD, when the Bank, as part of its due diligence ahead of the granting of HBL’s provisional banking license had requested and received confirmation from COCOBOD of the existence of the contractual arrangements between the COCOBOD and the said shareholder.”
“We also want to state on record that Heritage Bank never received, nor is the Board aware of any order from the High Court (or any other court for that matter) for disclosures relating to any contract involving Mr Seidu Agongo. Indeed, we are hearing of this matter for the very first time through the Governor’s news conference. In any case, we are unable to fathom why the High Court would order Heritage Bank to make disclosures in respect of a contract that it is not a party to, or a custodian of”, the statement added.
‘Agongo’s criminal prosecution makes him ‘not fit and proper’ to own a bank’ – BoG Governor
Recounting how the bank obtained its licenses, Dr. Addison said the promoters of Heritage bank provided evidence to Bank of Ghana at the time of the application for a banking licence to the effect that an amount totalling GHC 120.6 million was lodged with a local bank.
“The amount of GHC 120 million was transferred to the bank from Agricult, a company wholly owned by Seidu Agongo, a promoter of Heritage, which funds appear to have been derived from contracts awarded to Mr. Agongo by COCOBOD, and are currently the basis of criminal prosecution in the High Court of Ghana. Meanwhile, it has come to the notice of the Bank of Ghana that the bank has yet to respond to two High Court orders for disclosures relating to these and other contracts affecting the significant shareholder Mr. Agongo.”
“While Mr Agongo claimed that his sources of capital for the bank included proceeds of a USD 19.25 million contract with COCOBOD, Bank of Ghana’s subsequent investigations have shown that there was no such contract between COCOBOD and Mr Agongo. One or more contracts executed, however, existed between COCOBOD and Sarago Limited (“Sarago”). Documents submitted to the Bank of Ghana for licensing of the bank made no mention of the contract between COCOBOD and Sarago nor the fact that Sarago (also a shareholder of the bank) was owned by Mr. Agongo”.
Heritage Bank’s capital was from suspicious sources – BOG
After completing reforms in the banking sector on January 4, 2019, Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Dr. Ernest Addison, announced that “the bank’s capital appears to have come from sources which are suspicious”.
Mr. Addison explained that in the application for a banking licence, each shareholder of Heritage needed to demonstrate their “ability to subscribe to the shares” of the bank, however, the Bank of Ghana was not satisfied that the original sources of the bank’s capital are acceptable, in terms of section 9 (d) of the Banking and the Anti-Money Laundering Act which requires acceptable capital to be obtained from lawful and transparent sources.
By: Nii Larte Lartey citinewsroom.com | Ghana | firstname.lastname@example.org