A PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSED BY THE NATIONAL COMMUNICATION BUREAU OF THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS (NDC) ON THE RAGING MENZGOLD SAGA AND MATTERS AR
A PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSED BY THE NATIONAL COMMUNICATION BUREAU OF THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS (NDC) ON THE RAGING MENZGOLD SAGA AND MATTERS ARISING.
Wednesday, 16th January 2019.
Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen of the press.
I welcome you all to the second edition of our Moment of Truth (MOT) series. The National Democratic Congress is always grateful to you for availing your esteemed platforms for enriching our democratic and development discourse.
We have followed with dismay and sadness recent developments regarding the ongoing Menzgold saga. As a political party, we are extremely worried about the loss of investments and livelihoods of the several thousands of Menzgold customers across the country. As we are being told on daily basis, the customers of Menzgold cut across several spheres of our national lives. Indeed, traders, teachers, technicians, artisans, artists, farmers, lawyers, miners, security personnel, politicians, pastors among others have all been cruelly affected by this Menzgold saga.
Accordingly, we wish to register our profound sympathies to the victims in these hard times. In addition, we wish to comfort the victims and assure them of our unwavering support towards the struggle to ensure that this complicit Akufo-Addo Government retrieve and restores their losses. We shall not rest, we shall not relent, and we shall not falter in our resolve to pressurise the complicit Akufo-Addo government to restore this great loss to the teeming number of Ghanaians some of whom we are informed are contemplating suicide as a result of this Menzgold scandal.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we are extremely disturbed and disappointed with Government’s handling of this Menzgold saga. We are particularly disgusted by Government’s posturing towards the plight of Ghanaians who have lost several millions of Cedis. We find the stance of Government on this matter very irresponsible, insensitive and unconscionable. So far, various accounts from various state actors have been inconsistent, contradictory and cannot pass the truth test. As a political party, we join Ghanaians in expressing our revulsion for this rather strange, dishonest and callous posturing of Government.
Members of the press, after carefully analysing the facts of this Menzgold saga, we in the NDC have come to the inevitable conclusion that Government is responsible for the present woes of Menzgold customers. The Akufo-Addo government is complicit! Therefore, Government cannot feign ignorance of the events that have led us to where we are today in a desperate attempt to shirk its responsibility of ensuring that Menzgold customers are paid back their investments. The attempt by Government to parry legitimate concerns of Menzgold customers and to taunt political opponents who are calling for the right thing to be done is most unfortunate and will not stand.
Ladies and gentlemen, our position is grounded on the following facts:
- The Menzgold problem is largely the creation of the Akufo-Addo Government. This is because, the many overt acts of endorsement and advertisement of Menzgold and its CEO, Nana Appiah Mensah (also known as NAM1), by the President and his Government is inextricably linked to the present predicament of grieving Menzgold customers. Undoubtedly, the open endorsement of NAM1 and Menzgold by this government greatly enhanced the credibility and legitimacy of Menzgold in the eyes of the public and encouraged many people to invest with the company even after the Bank of Ghana had cautioned against the activities of Menzgold.
Ladies and Gentlemen from the media, it is important to put this Menzgold issue in the right historical context and to lay bare the facts for the appreciation of all.
HISTORY OF MENZGOLD
- In 2014, the BOG discovered in a special exercise within the Central Region, that an entity called Menzbank was operating a Microfinance scheme in Kasoa under the guise of gold trading and illegally using the name “Bank”.
- On March 11, 2015, BOG issued a notice publishing a list of unlicensed entities operating illegally, which list included Menzbank. This entity subsequently changed its name to
“Menzbanc Ghana Company Limited” (change from bank with letter ‘k’ to bank with letter ‘c’).
- On April 13, 2016, BOG issued a notice warning the general public against the illegal deposit-taking operations of Menzbanc. The BOG later wrote to Menzbanc cautioning it against its unlicensed deposit-taking activity.
- On August 16, 2016, the BOG contacted officials from the Minerals Commission and
Precious Minerals Marketing Company (PMMC) on the license status of Menzbanc, and subsequently commenced investigations into the Gold Vault Market product of the company.
- It is important to add at this point that Menzbanc could not be immediately shut down because they were a registered Company by law and licensed by relevant state institutions such as the Minerals Commission and the Precious Minerals Marketing Company (PMMC) to engage in gold trading. Thus, proper verifications needed to be done and due process followed to determine whether they had to be shut down or not. Unfortunately, while this important exercise was proceeding, the NDC exited Government in 2016.
Distinguished friends from the media, elections have consequences and the consequences are dire and telling particularly when a competent government is replaced with an incompetent, inept, insensitive, deceitful and nepotistic government as we have witnessed under this government.
Though state institutions like the BOG, Minerals Commission, PMMC, SEC etc. continued investigations into the illegal deposit-taking and capital market activities of Menzgold, the Executive arm of Government, led by President Akufo-Addo endorsed and promoted the activities of the now defunct Menzgold and its beleaguered CEO NAM1, thereby shoring up their legitimacy. This view is supported by indisputable and incontrovertible evidence.
EVIDENCE OF STATE-LED ENDORSEMENT AND PROMOTION OF MENZGOLD AND NAM1
- Ladies and gentlemen, although Government knew that Menzgold and its CEO were engaged in illegal business, the Akufo-Addo Government acknowledged Nana Appiah Mensah as a genuine businessman and continually honoured him for same. On Saturday, August 26th, 2017, the Entrepreneurs Foundation of Ghana (EFG) at its Ghana Business Quality Awards organized under the auspices of the Ministry of Finance, bestowed on Menzgold a Quality Business Award. In other words, the Ministry of Finance which is headed by the cousin of the President, Ken Ofori Atta, in collaboration with the EFG awarded Menzgold as one of the best companies in the Gold Assaying & Monumental Coins Industry. Therefore, it is ultimate hypocrisy for this same Ken Ofori Atta whose Ministry lured innocent citizens to invest in Menzgold, to turn around and insult the grieving customers as “greedy people”. We would like to inform Ken Ofori Atta, that he is by far the greediest political figure in Ghana today, and lacks the moral high ground to label any citizen of Kwame Nkrumah’s Ghana as greedy. If greed was ever a human being, his name will be Ken Ofori Atta.
- Also, in spite of the fact that government knew that NAM1 was engaged in illegal business, on 28th April, 2018, at the 8th Ghana Entrepreneurs and Corporate Executives Awards, organized by EFG in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Business Development, Nana Appiah Mensah, CEO of Menzgold, was awarded as the Best Business Executive for 2017.
- The NDC cannot also forget the now infamous visit of NAM1 to the Presidency with his close pal and a close confidante of President Akufo-Addo, Kwesi Nyantakyi of Number 12 fame. Government’s claim that NAM1 was included in the said delegation because he had expressed an intention to sponsor the Ghana Football League is an afterthought and a poor attempt at defending the indefensible. The said delegation was made up of CAF and GFA officials. NAM1 has never been an official of any of these bodies. The mere fact that he had expressed an intention to sponsor Ghana’s Football League did not make him a GFA or CAF official. Ordinarily, he had no business joining the said delegation and President Akufo-Addo also had no business meeting with him. His meeting with the President was completely unjustifiable and a poor exercise of judgement. The outcome of this meeting which was highly publicised for months without correction from the presidency, further deepened confidence in the activities of Menzgold and wooed unsuspecting Ghanaians to invest or keep their investments with Menzgold.
Ladies and gentlemen – to buttress this point – after meeting President Akufo-Addo, NAM1 took a picture with the President and subsequently shared it on his Facebook wall with the caption, “Mr. President, we owe it all to you”. What did NAM1 mean by this statement? Obviously, he was ascribing his successes to the President, all in an effort to enhance his legitimacy and validity. Although government knew at all times that NAM1 was engaged in illegal business and was a subject of investigation, Government was not bothered to issue a disclaimer to distance the President from this obvious act of advertisement.
Ladies and Gentlemen, as a result, but unfortunately, when the Regulatory institutions such as Bank of Ghana and SEC were saying no to NAM1, President Akufo-Addo was giving thumbs up to NAM1. Government simply refused to sing from the same hymn page and succeeded in confusing and encouraging unsuspecting Ghanaians to deal with Menzgold.
- Also, even though he was a subject of investigation and had been pronounced by the central bank as a person engaged in illegal business, the state looked on while NAM1 sponsored the Ghana Football League without any objections. This further enhanced the visibility and legitimacy of NAM1 and his businesses.
- Additionally, during the national tour of NAM Mission, the Minister of Tourism, Hon. Catherine Afeku after taking inspiration from her boss, President Akufo-Addo’s bad example was seen chaperoning NAM1 throughout the Western Region ostensibly to create tourism awareness. This was another open state endorsement and ministerial advertisement of the beleaguered CEO of Menzgold which enhanced his popularity, legitimacy and credibility.
- Friends from the media, we would like to submit to you that the wife of President Akufo-Addo and First Lady of the Republic of Ghana also took active part in the endorsement and promotion of the NAM1. In March 2018, her foundation, Rebecca Foundation partnered with NAM Mission, (another company belonging to the beleaguered Menzgold CEO) in connection with a medical outreach program in some parts of the country. It is mind-boggling that among all the humanitarian agencies in Ghana and the world, it was NAM1 the ‘fraudster’ that our
First Lady chose to partner with.
- Again, it is worthy of note that in the last two (2) years, Nana Appiah Mensah has enjoyed full state honours, as we have seen him with armed police escort at public gatherings on countless occasions. Not even Members of Parliament and Ministers of State enjoy the kind of security detail that was accorded NAM1 by this government. Ladies and gentlemen, where in the world can a man declared by the central bank as engaged in illegal business be accorded such elaborate state security and protocol privileges? Need we add that these overt actions of the state propped up NAM1’s acceptability and encouraged more citizens to invest in
Ladies and gentlemen of the press, it was these public acts of endorsement of NAM1 and Menzgold by the President and his appointees that encouraged a lot of innocent citizens to invest with Menzgold. The fact remains that, before the NPP assumed office in 2017,
Menzbank and Menzbanc were small schemes and quite unknown. This entity later became Menzgold with several wings under this Government. As a result of official state enablement, the clientele base of the company grew exponentially within the last two years. Information available to us suggests that the company actually acquired about 90% of its current clientele between 2017-2018 and this fact has been corroborated by the customers and staff of Menzgold.
Ladies and gentlemen, celebrity endorsement of a particular business or product has a positive correlation with the fortunes of that business. We all recall how in 2009, advertising experts revealed that Barack Obama’s public declaration of affection for his Blackberry phone indirectly provided the Blackberry company with free publicity worth up to £33 million. President Akufo-Addo and his Government didn’t need to expressly tell Ghanaians to invest in Menzgold. The fact is that, many of the grieving customers of Menzgold invested in the company because of the open endorsement of NAM1 and Menzgold by the Akufo-Addo government. They trusted Menzgold because they trusted the President and his appointees. Therefore, Government cannot absolve itself from responsibility in this matter.
- CLOSURE OF MENZGOLD AND GOVERNMENT’S IRRESPONSIBLE CONDUCT IN THE AFTERMATH
Friends from the media, how did this government close down the activities of Menzgold and how has it managed the aftermath thereof? Did they have the investments of the customers in mind or their main preoccupation was to offer NAM1 safe passage to diffuse and dissipate his wealth so that customers cannot trace such wealth even when they secure court judgments to recover their loss?
We have been told that the object of Government’s intervention was to protect customers and their investments. Before the closure of the company, did government conduct an audit of the assets and liabilities of the company? Did government track the accounts and assets of the company, its Directors and Shareholders both locally and internationally, to decide on how to retrieve the investments of customers?
Ladies and Gentlemen, this Government’s lack of diligence and foresight was manifestly clear in the absence of a roadmap to help customers get their monies back. The untidy approach adopted by Government contradicts the purpose and essence of government’s intervention, and has only aggravated the plight of the many suffering clients of Menzgold.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Government’s posturing in the aftermath of the closure of Menzgold is even more bizarre and confirms its complicity in this whole scam. It reveals government’s obscene determination to aid the perpetrators of this scam to get off the hook. Is it not intriguing that four months after the shutdown, no Director, Shareholder or Management member of Menzgold has been arrested and put under strict surveillance by state security? Until yesterday, no effort had been made by government to freeze the accounts of NAM1 and Menzgold. Till date, none of his assets and that of Menzgold, including that of his accomplices have been confiscated by government.
Within the last three (3) months and despite several warnings by staff of Menzgold, government has sat aloof and allowed directors, shareholders and management members to sell assets of the company, with some absconding from the country with their loot. Other companies of NAM1 are still operating in this country whiles government looks on unconcerned. Liquidation processes haven’t been commenced against Menzgold despite the state being fully clothed with power and authority under the law to do so? If this does not smack of sheer dereliction of duty and complicity on the part of government, then what else is it?
Of course, we are fully aware of some secret payments made to Government appointees and their cronies who equally invested in Menzgold by top management members of the company. This has been ongoing on the blind side of ordinary Menzgold customers in the last four months, a fact strongly corroborated by Senior Staff members of Menzgold in a recent press statement. Once again, these secret payments speak loudly about a government that cares only about its family and friends and cares less about ordinary Ghanaians.
Ladies and gentlemen of the press, the NDC is aware of the real reason behind Government’s inertia in this whole Menzgold matter. According to our unimpeachable sources at Menzgold, NAM1 sponsored the NPP and President Akufo-Addo’s 2016 election campaign with a gargantuan amount of money, hence his strong ties with government. NAM1’s amorous affair with the Akufo-Addo government is the only explanation as to how state security aided him to abscond from our jurisdiction and continues to treat him and his accomplices with kid gloves.
- THE PURPORTED ARREST OF NAM1 AND HIS AIDED ESCAPE FROM GHANA
Friends from the media, we are convinced beyond a shudder of doubt that NAM1 was aided by government and our security agencies to flee the country. We are told by government that NAM1 was arrested by the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) in August 2018 and granted self -recognizance bail. We are again told that he jumped bail and absconded from Ghana in September 2018. At this point, certain questions beg for urgent answers and we hope President Akufo-Addo will provide urgent answers at least through his lying Minister of Information.
- Why was NAM1 granted self-recognizance bail given the seriousness and the magnitude of this case?
- Knowing that NAM1 was a flight risk, equipped with a private aircraft, why was his passport and traveling documents not seized by EOCO in line with their standard practice?
- Why was he not put under strict surveillance by our security agencies?
- How was he able to slip out of the country without the knowledge of our security agencies?
- We know that NAM1 absconded from Ghana in September 2018, about three (3) months ago; until the Kumasi demonstration by customers of Menzgold, what had Government done to re-arrest him? and
- Why did it have to take the President’s nephew and de facto Prime Minister, Gabby Otchere-Darko to inform the Ghanaian people and grieving Menzgold customers that NAM1 had jumped bail?
The more questions the NDC poses, the more glaring Government’s role in aiding and abetting the escape of NAM1 becomes.
Ladies and gentlemen of the press, as pressure continued to mount on Government to take responsibility, a patently defective warrant was issued by government for the arrest of NAM1. We later found out that NAM1 had been arrested and detained in Dubai as far back as 7th December, 2018 in connection with an UNRELATED fraud case. What this means is that, at the time the defective arrest warrant was issued, NAM1 was already in police custody in Dubai. Surprisingly, it took the media to break this news despite the existence of a Ghanaian mission in Dubai, which is supervised by the father in-law of the Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia. How come Government didn’t know about this? How come Interpol was activated to look for this fugitive who has committed a crime of gargantuan proportions against suffering Ghanaians when he was already in police custody in the Emirates? This whole episode is beginning to look like a comical Hollywood movie directed by the nephew of the President, Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko.
Ladies and gentlemen, Ghanaians and Menzgold customers are not interested in these conflicting accounts and theatricals. The bottom-line is that Government must take responsibility and ensure that Menzgold customers are paid their monies.
- THE ‘DKM PRINCIPLE’
Ladies and Gentlemen of the media, contrary to the claims by government, there is no material distinction between the DKM matter and this present Menzgold issue. Government’s position that it has no responsibility to Menzgold customers is hypocritical and smacks of double-standards. Just as DKM was licensed by the BOG, Menzgold was also registered by the Registrar General and licensed by the Minerals Commission of Ghana. Both cases concern two registered and duly licensed business entities which are regulated by State institutions, pay taxes to the state and who in one way or the other violated the conditions of their licenses. The Akufo-Addo Government must therefore be consistent and apply the same position they took on the DKM matter in 2016 (“the DKM Principle”) to this Menzgold saga. In line with the ‘DKM Principle’, Government must take responsibility and retrieve the monies of Menzgold customers for them or pay same to them.
In any case, regulatory bodies do not only regulate companies registered under them. The mandate and duty of regulatory bodies is also to regulate activities that fall under their jurisdiction. Therefore, the argument by government that it owes no responsibility to Menzgold customers because the company was not licensed by the BOG and SEC is completely lame and untenable.
THE WAY FORWARD
Ladies and gentlemen, the Menzgold saga is a more grievous and serious matter than the Akufo-Addo government has reduced it to. It is perhaps the greatest financial calamity to have ever befallen the Ghanaian people. It is a volatile matter which borders on the lifetime savings of thousands of Ghanaian citizens and can degenerate into something ugly if not handled properly.
We insist that Government has a constitutional duty to protect its citizens and safeguard their interests, including their economic rights, at all times. The state is clothed with enough power and resources to retrieve the monies of Menzgold customers or to compensate them. This responsibility must not be abdicated as if Government is just a passive observer in this whole debacle.
Ladies and Gentlemen, President Akufo-Addo has been part of this problem; hence must be part of the solution! As a matter of urgency, Government must take steps and ensure that Menzgold customers are paid their monies.
We learnt late yesterday that EOCO had belatedly frozen the accounts and assets of Nana Appiah Mensah. This begs the question as to what EOCO had been doing all this while as the matter raged on. We submit that EOCO is only acting after the NAM1 horses if not elephants have left the stable.
Contrasting the wilfully lazy approach of EOCO to the speed and dispatch with which they have frozen the accounts of other Ghanaians they have placed under investigations over the flimsiest premise, we wish to ask why EOCO not took swift action to freeze the accounts and assets of NAM 1 until now.
It takes little effort to decipher that the handling of this matter has been done in a way as to allow Nana Appiah Mensah and his acomplices to have safe passage from Ghana and have enough time to move their assets and money out of the jurisdiction beyond the reach of Ghanaian authorities.
This is a smoking gun showing clear governmental complicity in the biggest heist to hit the country in its recent history. Ghanaians cannot be deceived anymore. Ghanaians are wide awake. Therefore, we demand definite action from government not only to bring Nana Appiah Mensah and his accomplices to book but to restore the losses of Menzgold customers as a matter of urgency.
Thank you for honouring this invitation, and may God bless our homeland Ghana.
NATIONAL COMMUNICATION OFFICER, NDC