Leading Member of the New Patriotic Party Dr. Kobina Arthur Kennedy has challenged the founder of the International Central Gospel Church (ICGC), Dr Mensa Otabil who quietly resigned from the National Cathedral Board of Trustees to refund Capital Bank cash if he truly has principles.
Dr. Kennedy was speaking to Mugabe Maase on Power FM Monday following developments at the National Cathedral where more than Gh¢200million had been released towards the project with little work to show.
He alleged that Mr. Otabil should apply the same principle of his resignation from the board to refund to the Bank of Ghana, amounts of money that were allegedly mismanaged and misappropriated under him as Board Chairman.
Otabil as Board Chairman of Capital Bank is on trial in a civil suit by the state where he is accused with 15 defendants of mismanaging about GH¢837 million in the coffers of the bank and a GH¢620 million liquidity support given to the bank by the Bank of Ghana.
It will be recalled that on November 11, 2018, receivers of the collapsed Capital Bank — Mr Vish Ashiagbor and Mr Eric Nipah, both of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) — sued Pastor Otabil, the ICGC and 13 other shareholders and directors of the Bank at the Commercial Division of the Accra High Court.
The receivers wanted to use the legal action to recover all the money that they claimed the defendants owed the bank.
Among other accusations, Otabil and other partners including his church were reportedly allocating onto themselves loans amounting to about GH¢482 million, which they had refused to repay, and the use of a non-existent GH¢52.3 million investment certificate to top up the capital of the bank to obtain a universal banking licence from the BoG.
In fairness to Pastor Otabil, his statement of defence denied all the claims made by the receivers and urged the court not to grant any of the reliefs sought by them.
With regard to accusations that the shareholders allocated onto themselves GH¢420 million as loans and had refused to pay, Pastor Otabil said the said amount was actually not a loan but ‘just’ debts that the bank incurred during the time it operated as a microfinance company.
The said amount, he said, was still on the books of the company when it became a savings and loans company and finally a bank.
He contended that in order to help the bank have a better balanced book, the board, with the approval of the BoG, allowed shareholders to assume responsibility for the impaired investments and, therefore, they were restructured into a five-year loan.
“Upon this, four of the bank’s shareholders signed a memorandum of undertaking in May 2016 to pay the sum, with the approval and understanding of the Bank of Ghana that payments by the four (4) shareholders would be set off against their future dividends,’’ he said.
According to Pastor Otabil, the four shareholders who were to pay the restructured GH¢420 million “impaired investments” were Ato Essien, Oheneba Osei Akoto, Stephen Enchill and Kingsley Atta Ghansah.
Pastor Otabil also denied claims by the receivers that he mismanaged the GH¢620 million liquidity support that the BoG provided the bank.
According to him, the BoG provided the liquidity support, not because of mismanagement at Capital Bank but rather it was a loan facility to help stabilise the bank “when it was faced with liquidity challenges arising out of the normal course of banking business’’.
“The liquidity support attracted an average interest rate of 25.1 per cent per annum and the bank was discharging its repayment obligations until the revocation of its banking licence,’’ he contended.
“The second defendant (Pastor Otabil) discharged his duties as a Director and specifically as Chairman of the board faithfully, diligently and to the best of his abilities,’’ the statement of defence added.