Group says government unaware about sale of SSNIT shares in The Trust Bank

The Coalition for the Protection of Individual Liberties and Constitutional Rights (COPCOR) on Thursday expressed concern about the alleged sale of Social Security and National Insurance Trust’s (SSNIT) 61% shares in The Trust Bank (TTB) to a foreign bank, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI).

It pointed out that TTB was currently the third largest local bank after Ghana Commercial Bank and Agricultural Development Bank. Therefore, the claim by SSNIT that it intended to create the biggest bank in Ghana from the sale was not convincing, it said and called on government to intervene to stop the deal.

Mr George Agbenyikey Jnr, Co-ordinator of COPCOR, addressing a press conference in Accra said available information indicated that SSNIT was frantically pushing for the deal with ETI without the knowledge of Government and challenged SSNIT to come out publicly to clear the air on the ‘ill-intentioned transaction’.

“It’s worth noting that being a government agency, with State’s vested interest; any such transaction should require government and Cabinet’s express consent since such a move could result in adverse consequences to all stakeholders, including government and Ghanaian workers who pay SSNIT contributions monthly,” he said.

Mr Agbenyikey alleged that SSNIT had already appointed Strategic African Securities (SAS) while ETI had appointed PriceWaterHouseCoopers through Ecobank Development Corporation to serve as transaction advisers.

He said with these developments, COPCOR was unclear about the hasty preparation being made towards the sale and what could be influencing SSNIT, a majority shareholder in TTB to be so eager to sell the sixth largest bank in Ghana with GHc122 million in shareholders fund without any convincing reason.

The Co-ordinator said TTB had traditionally been one of the few top performing banks, with very high returns on assets (averaging about four per cent per annum) as well as high returns on equity (averaging about 36 per cent per annum) for the past decades.

“We call on SSNIT to publish the records they have regarding their investment holdings in every bank in this country to convince the good people of Ghana why they intend selling TTB. We deserve to know their investment sums as well as the returns from each bank for the last 10 years. This will bring to bear their true intentions on this bad transaction.

“We know for sure that TTB is in good standing as it has met the Central bank’s mandatory minimum capital requirement of GH¢60 million. The bank is the first in Ghana to have exceeded the required minimum by generating over GH¢66 million additional capital from a Rights Issue announced in 2009.

“That exercise alone brought the total stated capital of TTB to over GH¢91 million and shareholders’ funds to over GH¢122 million at the close of the 2010 financial year, two years ahead of the GH¢60 million deadline set by the Central Bank,” he said.

Mr Agbenyikey said that underscored the confidence that all shareholders of the bank had in its performance, and Ghana deserved to keep one of the best performing banks and TTB should not be left into the hands of foreigners.

“If SSNIT cannot continue to hold its 61 per cent interest in TTB, they should tell Ghanaians so that we would together explore the possibility of getting indigenous investors to buy off their excess share to ensure TTB remains a Ghanaian bank.

“We must have confidence in the wholly Ghanaian Management Team that has professionally managed the bank this far. Sources at the Banking Supervision Department of the Central Bank indicates that TTB is one of the best managed banks in the country, always taking risk management and corporate governance to higher levels all the time.

“SSNIT will have to come very clear in this ill-intention transaction, which is not in our interest as Ghanaians and is also very likely to affect image of the government.

“What is good for ETI is also good for Ghanaians and we must all join hands to stop these individuals from benefiting from our sweat, as workers pension funds are being toyed with by SSNIT,” Mr Agbenyikey said.

Source: GNA

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