A member of Parliament’s Finance Committee has registered his disappointment with the Akufo-Addo-led government for its laxity in not acting immediately on the Menzgold issue.
Cassiel Ato Forson said government should have acted in September when the Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) directed the embattled gold dealership firm to stop operations.
“You [government] have given this company four clear months to possibly hide people’s deposits…you gave them the possibility of selling assets and find a nice way to repatriate the monies to where it should be in safe haven.
“Giving four clear months to someone you claim is operating illegally…if they believed in themselves that indeed the guy was operating illegally, the very day they asked the company to stop operations they should have moved in the same day,” he told Joy News’ Evans Mensah.
The comment by the Ajumako Enyan Esiam NDC MP follows a circuit court warrant for the arrest of Menzgold CEO, Nana Appiah Mensah.
The man popularly called NAM1 has been declared wanted for defrauding by false pretence among other charges.
The warrant for the arrest of the embattled businessman was issued in Accra after his investment company failed to refund clients’ money and dividends.
There are also warrants for the arrest of one Rose Tetteh, believed to be the wife of Nana Appiah Mensah and one Benedicta Appiah, said to be his sister.
A close confidante of President Akufo-Addo, Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, first hinted about a troubled day for NAM1 and his close associates when he posted on his Facebook page on Tuesday that NAM 1 has been arrested but had breached bail and absconded.
But despite the issuing the warrant and alerting Interpol in 194 countries, the former Deputy Finance Minister said it came a day late and a dollar short.
“They should have requested for his arrest [when they halted operations of Menzgold], and ensure that all assets belonging to Menzgold are frozen at that point,” Mr Ato Forson said.
He said government may be able to recover part of the assets but a good chunk of the asset may be hidden by now.
Mr Forson expects to Bank of Ghana and related organisations to freeze the assets of all such people and sell them to recover some monies to repay investors.
However, a majority legislator, Anthony Efa, said the investors should take a cue from what central bank’s warning that the entity was not licensed to take deposits.
“It is not for government to put padlocks there to prevent people from going there. You have to use your own conscience to know that the Bank of Ghana has warned and it is not the only place to invest,” he said.
Regarding laxity on part of government, the Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa MP said there is always a time to start.
“Let us see whether we can have a complete operation where we can grab him and the courts will determine whether he is a criminal or not,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Financial Intelligence Centre has moved in to freeze NAM1’s bank accounts and there are efforts to freeze some of the assets that can be confirmed to be in his name.