State prosecutors have charged a former finance minister for alleged crimes that contributed to the collapse of one of Ghana’s biggest local lenders during a banking crisis.
Dr Kwabena Duffuor, who served as finance chief from 2009 to 2013, and seven other individuals were named in a Wednesday filing at the Accra High Court on counts that include theft and money laundering. Duffuor is accused of receiving 663.3 million cedis ($122 million) “knowing it had been obtained by means of a criminal offense,” among other charges, according to the court document.
Duffuor, who also served as a governor of the Bank of Ghana from 1997 to 2001, was the founder Unibank Ghana Ltd., The lender was declared insolvent in August 2018 after shareholders and related parties took 5.3 billion cedis in loans and other withdrawals without following due process, the central bank said at the time.
Wednesday’s court filing also named Dr Johnson Asiama, who served as a deputy governor of the Bank of Ghana until 2018, for granting a facility for the benefit of Unibank through another lender without following due procedure, causing losses of 150 million cedis to the state.
Asiama is also facing similar charges for the supply of liquidity support to UT Bank. The central bank stripped UT of its banking license in August 2017.
Duffuor is denying the charges, his lawyer, Charles Puozuing, said by phone. Asiama wouldn’t immediately comment when contacted by phone.
The scale of Ghana’s banking crisis came to the fore when the central bank started an industry cleanup in August 2017 to remedy years of poor governance and weak regulatory oversight. It left the government with little choice but to safeguard the savings of about 4.6 million depositors and protect jobs at insolvent banks and scores of second-tier lenders with 12.5 billion cedis in bailouts.
President Nana Akufo-Addo pledged in January that those responsible for the crisis would face justice.