The issue of insolvency has rocked the financial sector in Ghana, recently. With 347 Microfinance Companies, 23 saving and loans companies and several banks facing insolvency, Eric Nipah, partner at the consulting firm PWC, was appointed Receiver by the Central Bank as part of efforts to clean up the system.
In an interview with Emmanuel oscar Ugoh, an independent news writer, The Receiver indicated that there are three main groups of claimants, covering individuals, financial institutions and social organizations.
He said processing of claims is well advanced and is ongoing at the 96 operating branches out of the 675 that existed before the rationalization of branches took place. The reduction was part of the efforts to be economical with the receivership exercise. "Operating out of so many branches was a very expensive exercise and we had to do something about it considering the fact that people are hurting. People are owed a combined amount of Ghc1.9bn and therefore it would be insensitive to continue to run such a huge operation and spend so much money.
Speaking about the capacity in which he was appointed as Receiver, Mr. Nipah said, "I was appointed Receiver in my capacity as the Partner-Director of PWC in charge of insolvency. All over the world, insolvencies are run by individuals and not companies. It is an industry practice, so that there can be personal accountability". The Receiver went on to emphasize that he doesn't have a contract with Bank of Ghana. "It is my firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, which has a contract with Bank of Ghana".
He went on to explain why the Receivership made extensions to the original deadline for Customers to submit claims. He said he was compelled to give extensions to ensure that all customers feel fairly dealt with.
Speaking further, he stated that the exercise is being funded by two main sources. He listed the Government support as one source, stating that an allocation of Ghc835m has been made, in the case of Microfinance Companies. He also explained that the bulk of the funding was potentially to come from the sale of assets of the companies. However he bemoaned the unfortunate fact that "a lot of these companies are assetless in terms of the fact that, there's virtually nothing there."
The Receiver indicated that due to suspicious transactions, EOCO has been brought in to investigate and conduct an asset tracing exercise. "We are optimistic that with the asset tracing exercise that EOCO is undertaking, there would be retrieval of assets for us to sell and use the proceeds to pay customers".
Mr. Nipah announced that the Receivership is on course to pay ninety-five percent of Microfinance customers, their total deposit. "We should be in the position, by December to have paid ninety-five percent of the customers, their full amount of money". With regards to the savings and loans companies, Mr. Nipah said, "We are on course, come December, to pay approximately ninety percent of the depositors their total amount due them."
He debunked accusations that he is working with the opposition to make government unpopular. "Not at all! I am a professional. I am nonpartisan. I am a Partner-director of PricewaterhouseCoopers, a reputable professional services firm".
Mr. Nipah expressed his eagerness to round up the receivership exercise saying, "Giving all the worries on my mind, I can't wait to finish and we are working assiduously to finish as soon as we possibly can."