Former Second Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Dr. Johnson Asiama has rejected assertions that he resigned from the Bank of Ghana (BoG) due to his involvement in embattled gold dealership firm Menzgold.
Dr. Asiama in reaction to an alleged statement made by a Vice Chairman of the NPP, Omarie Wadie that Dr. Asiama contributed to the Menzgold saga while in office disclosed that he was rather asked to resign by Finance Minister.
In a statement sighted by Citi Business News, Dr. Asiama insisted that he had no connection with Menzgold.
“I was called and asked to resign from office by the Finance Minister, Hon. Ken Ofori-Atta, and the reason he gave me that day was that the President wanted to appoint his own person in my place. It never had anything to do with Menzgold whatsoever. The rest is history.
Below is the full statement:
RE: RECKLESS STATEMENTS BY MR. OMARIE WADIE, 3RD NATIONAL VICE CHAIRMAN OF NPP ON JOY NEWS LINKING ME, JOHNSON P. ASIAMA (DR.) TO THE MENZGOLD ISSUE
My attention has just been drawn to a panel discussion that took place on JoyNews Live at around 18:30hrs today (January 16, 2019). In the said discussion, Mr Omarie Wadie, 3rd Vice Chairman of the NPP is alleged to have stated that I, Johnson P. Asiama (Dr.), former 2nd Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana had to resign due to my involvement with MENZGOLD. I wish to categorically deny this wicked assertion as an attempt to damage my reputation for whatever reason he has. Mr Wadie further asserted that I was being groomed to be a running mate for the NDC flagbearer. This also is a palpable falsehood, which the gentleman is known to engage in all the time.
I have referred the matter to my lawyers and we will follow up to the letter to seek redress in court. I wish to sound a strong warning to Mr Omarie Waadie not to involve me in the kind of dirty politics and uncouth behaviour he is engaging in. He is rather doing big damage to his party and I hope that the leadership of the NPP would call him to order. I have absolutely no political ambition at this time, contrary to the unfortunate statements he has made about me.
As someone who held high office, I hesitate to talk openly about such things, but I am compelled in the circumstances to explain the issues particularly about my resignation from office, for purposes of clarity.
I was called and asked to resign from office by the Finance Minister, Hon. Ken Ofori-Atta, and the reason he gave me that day was that the President wanted to appoint his own person in my place. It never had anything to do with Menzgold whatsoever. The rest is history. I, therefore, wish to state as follows:
- Somewhere around August 2017, I led a team of Bank of Ghana staff to appear before the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament to respond to certain issues in the Auditor Generals 2016 Report. The report had nothing to do with MENZGOLD.
- During the deliberations, however, an MP asked about the status of MENZGOLD and enquired whether we were regulating their activities. I took the time to explain to the meeting that we were not regulating MENZGOLD and we had not licensed them to accept deposits from the Public. Hence the Bank of Ghana would not be liable to anyone who engaged in any such business with them. I further explained that they had a licence issued by the Minerals Commission (and PMMC) to buy and export gold, and hence we couldn’t just storm their premises to lock them down.
- I was then the Supervising Governor for the Other Financial Institutions Supervisory Department (OFSD) that regulated the Microfinance institutions.
- About a week after, I called a meeting with the leadership of the other regulators (PMMC, Minerals Commission, Securities and Exchange Commission and the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and we took a number of decisions to address the MENZGOLD issue. Unfortunately, there were sudden changes in leadership in all the three (3) institutions (SEC, Minerals Commission, and PMMC) the same week, and hence I decided to reconvene the meeting at a later date.
- I then requested a meeting with MENZGOLD, and their lawyer and two other staff came to my office. During the discussions, I realised that they did not appear to understand what they were doing. I took the time to explain to them that the products they were offering (apart from the gold exports) were all akin to Ponzi schemes.
- At the end of the meeting, they understood and they appealed to me to help them restructure so that BoG could regulate them. I told them they had to apply for a financial institutions license (in the minimum) before we could engage them. In the meantime, I instructed that they halt the Bullion Banking products and to advertise in the newspapers to that effect, which they subsequently did.
- The staff of OFSD were present in that meeting and I instructed that they visit the company and to inspect their vaults. I was particularly interested in the safety of the database, learning from the DKM experience. Hence, I told them to ensure that MENZGOLD had data backups and to also obtain copies for our keeps. My plan was to check whether the value of gold in their vaults was equivalent to the monies they had received through their sister company, BREW MARKETING.
- Unfortunately, that same week was when I was called by the Minister of Finance and told that the President had decided to replace me with his own person, which I obliged. Certainly, if my efforts had continued even after my exit, we would have succeeded in restructuring MENZGOLD or resolving them entirely before end-2017.
- I, therefore, wish to emphasise again that my engagement with MENZGOLD officials prior to my exit was in line with my responsibilities as the Supervising Governor for OFSD, which supervised the non-bank financial institutions such as the Microfinance Institutions. Clearly, if someone had followed through with what I started, we perhaps wouldn’t be here today.