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Merchant Bank Palaver Not Over-Unions Meet Their Lawyers Today For Advice   
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Organised Labour will today meet its lawyers to advise it on whether to go to court or not over the controversial sale of Merchant Bank to Fortiz Private Equity Fund.

The advice to be offered by the lawyers would determine the next line of action to be taken by Organised Labour.

Prior to the Christmas and New Year holidays, a source within Organised Labour, who does not want to be mentioned, told The Finder that it will turn to the law courts to suspend the sale for all their concerns to be addressed.

According to our source, their letter officially demanding that the sale of Merchant Bank to Fortiz be suspended was served on the Bank of Ghana (BoG) and the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) on Monday, December 16, 2013.

But the source said Organised Labour was yet to receive any response from the two institutions. The source told The Finder that if the sale is not suspended as demanded six major labour groups would go to court to suspend the sale.

Out of the 13 board members of Merchant Bank, four represent Organised Labour, comprising two from the Trades Union Congress (TUC), one from the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) and one representing the Civil and Local Government Staff Association, Ghana (CLOGSAG).

It will be recalled that on Friday, December 13, 2013 six major labour groups in the country joined forces to oppose the sale of Merchant Bank to Fortiz Equity Fund.

The six – TUC, GNAT, National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), Ghana Medical Association (GMA), Judicial Services Staff Association of Ghana, and the Ghana Hospitals Pharmacists Association – asked the SSNIT board and the BoG to immediately suspend the transaction for further investigations into the controversial deal.

Private equity firm, Fortiz is paying GH˘90 million for SSNIT’s 90% stake in Merchant Bank, but the deal has been fraught with allegations of fraud.

The Executive Director of the Centre for Freedom and Accuracy, Mr Andrew Awuni, went to court challenging the sale, but the Commercial Division of the High Court dismissed his application for lack of capacity.

Organised Labour said “it will be prudent that SSNIT and the Bank of Ghana suspend the transaction to allow further investigations into the matter. This position is without prejudice to the legal suit currently before the courts.”

The statement continued: “We believe Merchant Bank has the potential to recover from its current distressed position. SSNIT should, therefore, make the necessary arrangements to recapitalise and restructure the bank’s management in particular to ensure its viability.”

The workers are also demanding full disclosure of the ownership of Fortiz, which has so far remained a mystery.

All statements issued by the equity firm are signed by unnamed directors, but the TUC Secretary General said not only should the directors be made public, Fortiz’s “sources of funding for this particular transaction” should also be made known.
Source: Finder

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