Majority shareholder of defunct Heritage Bank, Seidu Agongo has dismissed the four counts on which his Bank, Heritage Bank, was collapsed by the Bank of Ghana last month.
The Central Bank as part of its efforts to clean up the banking sector last month revoked the license of Heritage Bank, and provided four reasons which state:
1. That the Central Bank was suspicious of the sources of funds constituting the capital of HBL as it had reason to believe that the capital was derived from contract payments made by the Ghana Cocoa Board (Cocobod), which payments are the subject of an ongoing criminal prosecution;
2. That the Central Bank had issues with the shareholding of HBL; more specifically, the alleged non-disclosure of the beneficial ownership of certain shares of HBL;
3. That a number of related-party transactions involving HBL were not above board; and
4. That I, as a significant shareholder of HBL, was not a “fit and proper person” to hold shares in HBL.
Seidu Agongo after a month of the collapse of Heritage Bank issued a press statement describing the action by the Central Bank as “puzzling, grossly misleading in its content and unjust in its ultimate consequence.”
Addressing count four of the reasons provided by the Bank of Ghana, which tagged him as not fit and proper person to hold shares in the Bank, Mr Agongo said:
“It will be an understatement to say I was taken by surprise by the said announcement. This is because in all my dealings with the Central Bank concerning the affairs of HBL, at no point in time did the Central Bank indicate to me or to the Board of Directors (to my knowledge) that it had concerns regarding my role as a significant shareholder or a shareholder for that matter, of HBL. Indeed, in all our interactions, both official and unofficial, I walked away with the impression that the Central Bank held me in high regard as a shareholder of HBL, as I had dealt openly and transparently with the Central Bank and its principal officers in all matters concerning the affairs of HBL.
“Indeed, besides the rather cursory reference to my being the subject of pending criminal proceedings and the Central Bank’s suspicion that the sources of funds for the capitalization of HBL might have been derived from the proceeds of contracts executed with Cocobod, the Central Bank has, to date, not made available to me the factual basis upon which it concluded that I am not fit and proper to be a significant shareholder of HBL,” he added.
He questioned whether or not the Bank of Ghana will revert its decision if the final determination of the court case proves him not guilty.
“As at the time of this statement, as was at the time of the Governor’s press conference, there had been no determination either by the High Court nor any other authority for that matter, that the funds derived from contracts with Cocobod are in any manner or form illegal or criminal warranting my characterization by the Central Bank as not fit and proper. Considering the grave effects such determination portends for my life and business associations, both home and abroad, one would have thought that the Central Bank, as a regulator, would have been more deliberative in its approach to coming to such conclusion and not this capricious and arrogant; if such determination was not actuated by malice and complete bad faith.”
"The Central Bank’s determination having supposedly been based on the premise that the sources of capital of HBL are “suspicious” as the contracts from which they emanated are the subject of pending criminal proceedings, will the Central Bank restore the banking licence of HBL if I were to be acquitted of the current charges?" he questioned.