Governor of the Bank of Ghana (BoG) Dr Henry Kofi Wampah is likely to exit from the bank soon as pressure mounts on him to do so.
Dr Henry Kofi Wampah for some time now has been criticized over his approach in managing a number of issues in the sector he regulates.
Top among them is the management of the country’s currency the cedi as well as the microfinance sector.
But the recent arrest of David McDermott, an alleged drug baron, who is married to his step daughter is further increasing pressure for him to bow out.
Calls for his resignation
MPs recently called for his head following the DKM microfinance and God is Love fraud saga.
Member of Parliament for Manhyia South, Matthew Opoku Prempeh for example early this month insisted that Dr Henry Kofi Wampah steps down as he believes the central bank has failed in supervising the microfinance sector.
Matthew Opoku Prempeh who made the call when Dr. Henry Kofi Wampah addressed MPs on recent developments in the microfinance sector said ‘as honorable members of this house who passed the Bank of Ghana act, these Micro Finance companies come under the direct supervision of Bank of Ghana.
Unfortunately, lack of effective supervision on the part of the central bank has resulted in these cases. You cannot fire the governor of the Bank of Ghana, He has to step down.’’
President loses confidence in him?
The president John Mahama in his state of the nation address recently also hit hard at Dr Wampah for failing to manage the microfinance sector leading to its troubles.
‘‘Lack of effective supervision on the part of the central bank has resulted in many cases in which microfinance companies licensed by the bank of Ghana have breached rules of procedure that they were suppose to follow and have created pyramid schemes that eventually came down one such case is DKM. DKM with the super high interest of between 50% and 55% promised to depositors is believed to have caused a loss to its clients to the tune of 77 million Ghana cedis. Mr. Speaker many depositors have lost their life savings and their livelihoods”, the president said.
MPs during the speech had called on the president to fire Dr Wampah, however, per the new rules passed by the house recently, the governor cannot be sacked.
But perhaps what will be pushing the governor out of office is the arrest of an alleged British drug lord, said to be hiding from UK security authorities for years, in Ghana.
David McDermott who has been on the run for about three years is married to Ramona Wampah, the step daughter of Dr Henry Kofi Wampah.
Dr Henry Kofi Wampah yesterday denied knowledge of his son in law’s dealings after confirming that Ramona Wampah was indeed his step daughter.
A statement signed by him on March 13, 2016 and copied to Citi Business News said “until I received information about his arrest, I had absolutely no knowledge about David being a fugitive of the British government”.
According to Dr Wampah, he knew David to be a worker in the mining industry and was shocked about his arrest.
“I have received news about the arrest of David McDermott, who is married to my step daughter, Ramona, with shock”, he said.
“David has been known to me as a worker in the mining sector and has been living in the country with Ramona since their marriage some three years ago”. He added.
Climbing to the top
Dr Wampah who holds a Masters Degree and a Ph.D in Economics from McGill University, Montreal CANADA, rose through the ranks to become the boss of the central bank in 2013.
A year earlier he had acted as governor after his immediate boss Kwesi Amissah-Arthur was confirmed by Parliament as Vice President of Ghana. Before he took up that position he was chosen as first deputy governor of the central bank of Ghana in April 2009 replacing Dr. Mahammudu Bawumia who resigned from the position in mid-January 2009 after an unsuccessful vice presidential ambition with the opposition New Patriotic Party. Dr Henry Wampah had worked as the Head of the Research Department of the bank from February 1996 to February 2001.
He also worked with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Dr Wampah begun losing his popularity in February 2014 after he introduced a number of forex rules and policies to save the cedi from further depreciation. He was heavily criticized for the move.
The cedi took a nose dive against major trading currencies in 2014 and was tagged one of the worst on the African continent.
The central bank in bid to shore up the value of the cedi at the time banned the withdrawals of more than US$10,000 without proof of travel over the counter.
It also banned commercial banks and other financial houses from issuing cheques and cheque books on foreign exchange accounts (FEA) and foreign currency accounts (FCA).
It also directed that banks in the country should not grant a foreign currency-denominated loan or foreign currency-linked facility to a customer who is not a foreign exchange earner.
But a few months later the central bank announced it was withdrawing the rules following consultations with stakeholders. Last year economist and former Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana Dr. Mamadu Bawumia attributed the continuous depreciation of the cedi over the last few years, to bad policies introduced by the Bank of Ghana.
“On the exchange rate, the Ghana cedi has recently obtained the dubious distinction of being one of the worst currencies in the world as a result of weak fundamentals and some misguided policies by the Central Bank.” He said.
Last year the industry was hit with the DKM microfinance and God is Love Fun Club fraud saga where owners of the two institutions after promising depositors high interests on their investments were unable to pay them their locked up cash.
A number of depositors in some case took their lives having realized they had lost their investments while others have lost their livelihoods due to the matter.
The Governor recently announced however that the BoG had begun the liquidation process to give back depositors their cash.
Time to bow out?
Reports trickling in suggest the governor may bow out soon due to mounting pressure. It is unclear however exactly when that will be.
Citi Business News has learnt that Dr Henry Wampah was expected to leave the bank this June following mounting pressure for him to resign over developments in the industry. He was expected to take his accumulated leave in June this year and move on from there.
One of the players in the industry who wished to remain anonymous reacting to the development said ‘ this is a sad ending for Dr Wampah, he had challenges on the job but he was a decent guy and it’s unfortunate this scandal may push him out.
If Dr Wampah indeed steps down he will be replaced by his immediate deputy Millison Narh, the first deputy governor of the Bank of Ghana, till a substantive choice is made.
By: Vivian Kai Lokko/citibusinessnews.com/Ghana