Government, has been pushed into a tight corner in the controversy over the revocation of the license of UniBank in 2018.
The case which has dragged in court for close to two years was triggered by shareholder, Dr. Kwabena Duffour, who has sued the Bank of Ghana (BOG) and is also seeking a declaration that the Consolidated Bank Ghana Limited, cannot take over the bank’s assets and liabilities, including deposits of depositors.
In the suit, his lawyer, Professor Raymond Atuguba of Atuguba and Associates among other things, asked that the revocation of the bank’s license be declared as “null and void and in breach of Article 23 and 296 of the 1992 Constitution.”
Last Friday, government’s attempts to place an injunction against a court directive to parties to enter into arbitration, crushed.
The Commercial Division of the Accra High Court, presided over by Justice Jennifer Dadzie, dismissed an injunction application filed by the Receiver appointed to liquidate uniBank, to halt an arbitration hearing with the shareholders of the bank.
The Receiver, had earlier opted for the arbitration which was granted by the Court .
The Receiver appointed to liquidate Unibank in June last year, filed an application in court to halt an arbitration hearing with shareholders of the bank.
The application filed by lawyers for the Receiver, Nii Amanor Dodoo of Accounting firm KPMG, was asking the court to also make a determination on the previous ruling which directed the case for arbitration.
The Receiver, referred the matter to court after owners of uniBank, sought to challenge the bank’s liquidation by BoG.
In March 2018, the central bank took over uniBank, which it said was on the verge of collapse and handed it over to audit firm, KPMG Ghana as the administrator.
Among the challenges uniBank faced for which the BoG added it to the consolidated entity was that it had capital deficit of GHs 7.4 billion.
Five local banks, UniBank, Beige Bank, The Construction bank, The Royal Bank, and Sovereign Bank, were consolidated into a new entity called the Consolidated Bank Ghana Limited, which is 100 percent state-owned.
Financial analysts, have linked UniBank’s saga to its attempt to take over the Agricultural Development Bank (adb).
Two shareholders of defunct uniBank, had already dragged the BoG before court for canceling their 51 percent stake in adb.
According to the plaintiff in the suit filed at the High Court, the decision taken by the BoG, was “arbitrary, capricious and inconsistent”.
The shareholders, Belstar Capital Limited and Starmount Development Company Limited are seeking the annulment of the BoG’s decision.
The suit follows the annulment of Belstar’s 24 percent shares and Starmount’s 11 percent shares in adb over assertions that they were acquired fraudulently.
The two shareholders were victims of the BoG’s renewed efforts to clean the country’s financial sector and ensure a vibrant banking industry.
The BoG in July 2018, annulled the acquisition of shares in ADB Bank limited held by four investors, including Belstar capital and Starmount Development Company Limited. The others are SIC Financial Services and EDC Investments Limited.
A statement from the BoG on the matter, said that the order is pursuant to section 55 of the Banks and Specialised Deposit-Taking Institutions Act, 2016 (Act 930).
According to the central bank, the decision amongst others, annuls the shares acquired by the four investors and equally makes it impossible for them to carry out any voting rights, as well as reduce the effectiveness of the directors appointed by the said investors.
The central bank implicated Belstar and Starmount over what it said was their participation in a series of other questionable, unsafe, and unsound related party transactions involving uniBank Ghana Limited to the detriment of Ghana’s financial system and for their financial gain and benefit.
The BoG, also said it considered that Belstar and Starmount, were not fit and proper persons and cannot permit them to continue to hold shares acquired directly or indirectly in ADB.