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JM Is Hot …Over Sale Of Merchant Bank   
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A suspended member of the opposition New Patriotic Party, Dr. Charles Wereko-Brobby has strongly criticized President John Dramani for denting his credibility by intervening in a feud between his brother’s company and the state-owned Merchant Bank. He held the president cannot absolve himself of conflict of interest after documents and correspondence prove that he was involved in discussions on the indebtedness of Engineers and Planners to the ailing bank.

Mr. Mahama as Vice-President and acting on a petition to him by lawyer for E&P, Tony Lithur, held meetings with Merchant Bank to demand an explanation as to why the bank had refused to release money to his brother’s company for its operational costs. Mr. Lithur had asked him to intervene to “maintain the status quo ante” and to “enable Engineers and Planners take a structured approach to solving its problems with Merchant Bank”. In a letter dated 3 September 2012, the then Secretary to the President J.K Bebaako-Mensah wrote to the Managing Director of Merchant Bank asking the bank to respond to Tony Lithur’s petition. The Bank’s board responded in a ten-page letter dated 24 September, 2012. It referred to various meetings the board chairperson, Mrs. Marian Barnor had at the Presidency following earlier reports to the seat of government about the bank’s handling of the Engineers and Planners’ debt.

According to the Board, the first of the meetings was with President John Mahama, who was then Vice-President.

At that meeting, the board chairperson, Mrs. Barnor was asked by the Chief of Staff to meet Mr. Mahama to explain why the bank at the time had decided not to release monies to Engineers and Planners which owed the bank, $38 million.

There are questions as to whether the president’s involvement in the matter does not amount to a conflict of interest given that his brother, Ibrahim Mahama, owns E&P.

But the Office of the President has denied stopping Merchant Bank Ghana from retrieving a US$38 million from Engineers and Planners, a company owned by Ibrahim Mahama, brother to President John Mahama “We wish to state for emphasis that President John Mahama has never, during his days as Vice President and now as President, intervened or directed the Merchant Bank, not to recover its debts or vary the terms of debts owed it by Engineers and Planners or any other organization or individuals indebted to the bank”, a statement from the Presidency clarified yesterday.

According to the statement: “Indeed Government believes that Merchant Bank and all other Banks in which the state has an interest, must adopt every legitimate means, including legal action, to recover debts owed them by Companies and other individuals”.

The Flagstaff House also said the Presidency did nothing unusual in the matter.

“…It is not unusual for the Presidency to receive petitions from private companies or individuals which feel unfairly treated by one government agency on another”, the statement said. It noted that: “In such cases, as was rightly done by the then Secretary to the President, J.K. Bebaako-Mensah, the petition by Engineers and Planners was forwarded to Merchant Bank to furnish the Presidency with information on the issues raised in the petition”. Dr. Wereko-Brobby said a president who launched a code of conduct for his ministers, admonishing them against a wide range of unethical behavior including conflict of interest could not get involved in a matter in which his brother’s company failed to pay a loan it contracted from a limited liability company and yet plead innocence.
Source: The Publisher

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