Guest Blog: The Legitimization of NAM1[/caption]
For a man who came to prominence from relative obscurity and controlled huge wealth, there is very little known about Nana Appiah Mensah, popularly known as NAM1’s background or how he came about his wealth.
You would have thought that authorities in this country especially the National Security apparatus would have taken interest and looked into the background of such a person especially as he was blowing/investing millions lavishly and some may say, unwisely.
Were any background checks done on NAM1 and how he acquired the millions he was investing? If yes, what were the findings? If no, why not?
From a photo on his Instagram page, NAM1, is seen meeting the President of Ghana at the Jubilee House. Now, this is a photo I place huge relevance on but I have some pertinent questions.
For a man who had unexplained wealth, it was such meetings that were going to gain him legitimacy and acceptance and the President certainly contributed to giving a potential fraudster the legitimacy he needed. I have personally heard accounts of Menzgold clients who say the photo of NAM1 with the President convinced them that the business was genuine and that made them invest in it. And, can you really blame them when the NAM1 being condemned as a fraudster now was given access to the father of the land?
Ghanaians deserve answers from the President and his handlers.
Also, NAM1 is on record to have visited the Manhyia Palace with an entourage which included some Ghanaians artistes to go and greet the Otumfour. I do not believe that any Asante businessman can simply have access to the Otumfour so the Monarch and/or his handlers will have to indulge us by explaining to us how the man behind Menzgold was allowed access and whether or not background checks were carried out.
The owner of Menzgold also had the privilege of meeting the leader of the Muslim faith in Ghana, the Chief Imam, Sheikh Dr. Osmanu Nuhu Sharubutu. A Menzgold client who is Muslim confessed to me that after seeing the photo of his leader with NAM1, that gave him the confidence to invest in the business. According to him, he planned to invest GHS 600,000 but increased it to GHS 1,000,000. That is power and influence a photo with the Chief Imam had.
We can only imagine how many more clients were influenced by these photos of NAM1 with the President of Ghana, the Chief Imam and the Otumfour.
There was also a photo of the Menzgold CEO meeting the former President Kuffour and you really have to wonder if all these respected leaders and their handlers cared to look into the background of the man they were meeting. It is only right and proper that these eminent persons come out to explain to Ghanaians and admit their roles in legitimizing NAM1 and his Menzgold. This cannot be glossed over.
The Ghana Police Service and the CID would also have to explain to us how a guy with criminal background was able to operate so freely and without any hindrance. Why was a blind eye turned by the Police and CID? Is it the money factor?
I know the general consensus amongst Ghanaians is that “the Menzgold clients were warned several times” Yes, this is true. There were several notices from the Bank of Ghana (BoG) and one from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Let us delve a bit deeper into the ‘warnings’ from BoG. But before that, here’s some background about Menzgold. The company started out as MenzBank and later rebranded to MenzBanc and finally, to their current brand name, Menzgold. The suspicion from the timeline of engagement between the authorities and MenzBank-MenzBanc-Menzgold is that the company changed name and tact each time BoG closed in on them for operating illegally and without a license for taking deposits.
The final change from MenzBanc to Menzgold had the company changing it modus operandi with the introduction of a subsidiary named ‘Brew Marketing Limited’. A move ostensibly designed to get BoG to back off from their business.
Now, back to the public notices (warnings) from BoG. In between the changes from MenzBank-MenzBanc-Menzgold, the BoG had issued warnings to the public specifically about the unlicensed deposit-taking of the company. The company and it’s owner pushed back each time there were such warnings insisting that they were not engaged in deposit-taking and that their operations did not fall under the ambit of BoG. As things stand now, it is not BoG that has determined that Menzgold is operating illegally neither is it BoG that issued a shutdown directive to Menzgold.
It is the SEC. So, let’s zero in on the SEC and their role (or, lack of) in all of this.
The Complete Failure Of SEC As A Regulator
Let me state, first of all, that in the timeline of engagements between the authorities and MenzBank-MenzBanc-Menzgold which spans from October 2014 to June 2018, the SEC is completely missing in action and it is mainly BoG and Minerals Commission, to a lesser extent, who are the authorities featured in this timeline. From my research, I came across a public notice from the SEC on their website dated 22nd September, 2017 in which they were simply informing the public that Menzgold was not licensed by the SEC to operate in the Capital market.
As we all know, the SEC, a year after their public notice found reason and basis to determine that Menzgold were operating illegally and directed Menzgold to shutdown their trading in gold collectibles.
Let me be blunt here. From my understanding and research on this Menzgold issue, it is clear to me that there has been a complete failure on the part of the SEC to protect Ghanaian investors especially the unsuspecting and uninformed ones.
And, this is why I hold this stance.
The SEC have been aware of Menzgold since 2017 and yet, only found reason to issue a notice informing the public that Menzgold were not licensed by them. Between September 2017 and August 2018 (a full 12 months) when the SEC refer to a visit they made to Menzgold’s head office; what tangible steps did the SEC take to ascertain whether or not Menzgold were operating illegally and then act accordingly?
The SEC cannot claim ignorance about the scale of patronage in Menzgold and/or the potential risks and consequences for the investors and the financial sector so, why did it take them so long to finally act decisively?
Even the timing of their intervention is interesting because a little over a week before the SEC’s intervention, there was a news story with the headline ‘Menzgold Clients Furious Over Delay In Dividend Payment; Company Says Money Coming’. Was the business near it’s collapse already and was the SEC intervention designed to give Menzgold a legitimate cover to fold up; or was the timing just coincidental?
You see, having been born and bred in Ghana and being an ardent observer of happenings in this country especially at the highest levels, I know how easy it is for people in positions of authority to connive with others to dupe the state. In this case, I believe very strongly that people in authority have collaborated with a business to scam Ghanaians.
How else do you explain the long period Menzgold operated for before SEC finally realized they had legal basis to shut them down?
The SEC claimed that they were waiting for Menzgold to produce certain information before they could proceed with further action but this is despite stating that had completed investigations and had determined that Menzgold were operating illegally. How do you find a business to be operating illegally and yet, you are depending on the same illegal business to cooperate before you take action against it despite the SEC law clearly stating ways to proceed?
The SEC simply asked Menzgold to shutdown and went to sleep. Instead of handing over their investigation for Menzgold to be prosecuted, they have rather sat down for Menzgold to head to court first. Does this make sense?
The Finance Minister mentioned last week that the mastermind behind Menzgold, Nana Appiah Mensah, was going to be picked up by BNI soon. Why has this not happened already?
And, for a man who announced plans to build a theatre in Kumasi and also signed a sponsorship deal with the Ghana Premier League worth $10 million, you have to wonder if the Finance Minister bothered to use resources available to him to look into the source of the money NAM1 was blowing. It is very convenient for the Finance Minister, who is a man with great experience in investment business, to seek to heap all the blame on the clients when it is clear he nor his minstry paid any attention to NAM1 or Menzgold.
Talking about the inertia of public authorities; the engagement between them and Menzgold shows that on 19th September 2017, Minerals Commission wrote to Menzgold pointing out that the company was in breach of the law and the license they had due to Brew Marketing not being registered as a Licensed Buying Agent. What actions were taken against Menzgold for this breach?
Here is an excerpt from an OccupyGhana statement on Menzgold from August 2017 which is, over a year ago.
“The Bank of Ghana, the SEC and the MinCom have failed Ghana, by neglecting to take any of the statutory steps to ascertain whether MenzGold is involved in any illegal business, and then take control of its activities to ensure an orderly dismantling of it, including ensuring that the actors are punished in accordance with the law. This inaction by the Bank, and the silence of both the SEC and MinCom, are shockingly unacceptable.”
It took another full year for the SEC to act decisively after remaining largely silent throughout the period. How can this not be the regulators completely failing in their duty to protect the investing public?
In a serious country, I am certain an inquest into this failure would have been long underway with people losing their jobs and even facing prosecution but, this is Ghana. For how long are we going to let our leaders and authorities get away with failing us?
Here is a message to my fellow Ghanaians.
My people, for how long are we going to allow the elite and the authorities who have responsibility to protect the public interest get away with their failures? As we have seen in the Capital Bank saga, everything that had happened was facilitated by BoG officials who should have ensured the funds were not dissipated. How sure are we that Menzgold were not enabled and facilitated by state actors?
We cannot let the authorities get away easily this time. They have questions to answer and they must answer. The lack of accountability must end.
We have blamed the clients enough and many are suffering over the uncertainty of their investments. Let us now shift focus to those who were supposed to act as protectors and failed woefully. We must demand accountability and let these leaders know that we are not fools in this country.
How and why were Menzgold able to operate fully and freely for so long?
How was NAM1 able to meet and interact with the President of Ghana, the Chief Imam and Otumfour?
A question for my fellow Ghanaians: Knowing how things work in this country, are we supposed to believe that one man and his company have been able to evade and outwit the authorities in executing their scam?
If we do not hold the authorities to account now, we will only be emboldening them to continue scheming to create, loot, scam and share whiles ordinary Ghanaians suffer. This must end.
Writer: Nana Yaw Obuoba
- How did this meeting come about?
- What background checks were done on the man who seems to have scammed thousands of Ghanaians? What were the findings of any checks? If none were done; why?
- What was the purpose of that meeting?