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Opinion | Feb 14, 2019

Menzgold – Popular Or Notorious?

Polonius: What do you read, my Lord
Polonius: What do you read, my Lord

Hamlet: Words, words, words

Polonius: What is the matter, my Lord

Hamlet: Between who?

Hamlet Act 2 Scene 2

YOU COULD NOT FAIL to notice the beautiful edifices in which Menzgold operated: the edifices stood out clearly among the buildings of the area where they were located. You could not help being fascinated by the pompous display of expensive limousines at the plush residence of the man called NAM1. And he was selective in his choice of workers – beautiful ladies who matched their beauty with loquacity, nay, garrulousness and volubility.

We have read pieces from the newspapers which describe Nana Mensah of Menzgold as someone 'popularly called NAM 1'. What is 'popular' about the stories we hear concerning the man and his Menzgold? One would want to think of a popular person as someone who is liked by many people. Otherwise, that person could be famous without being popular. Going to the sources, 'popular' is from Latin 'popularis' (populus) 'people'. The French have 'populier' which in modern French is 'populaire', both meaning 'belonging to the people, devoted to or accepted by the people'. A closely-related word is 'famous' from Latin 'famosus' meaning 'much talked about, renowned'. Thus, while we can say Princess Diana, Prince Charles's consort was a very popular figure, Adolf Hitler could have been a famous politician, but never a popular one.

Without mincing words, and without fear of running away from the Supreme Court judgment in Kpebu v Attorney-General (Justice Benin: “…Section 96(7) of Act 30 as variously amended is inconsistent with Article 19 (2)(c) of the Constitution…” we could appropriately use the word 'notorious' to describe the activities of NAM 1. Thus, a notorious act could be villainous, iniquitous, nefarious, execrable, abominable, scandalous, diabolical and fiendish. What words can whitewash NAM 1 and several of his activities in which he robbed Peter to pay Paul?

Some of us have been accused of not being 'smart' because we REFUSED to take advantage of certain circumstances when the going was good and alluring. We cannot liken ourselves to Charles Ponzi, the Italian swindler, who used to say: “I landed in this country (USA) with $2.50 in cash and $1 million in hopes, and those hopes never left me.” Nor would we want to quote Charles Ponzi and say: “I went looking for trouble, and I found it.”

Born as Carlo Pietro Giovanni Gugliemo Tebaldo Ponzi in 1882, (died in 1949) he enticed his clients in the 1920s with money-making schemes, promising them 50% profit within 45 days or 100% profit within 90 days. His victims were lured to invest, not knowing that the profits he paid were the investments from more recent investors. The victims had the mistaken belief that the profits were coming from product sales or other means, but hardly being aware that other investors were the source of the profits. For the scheme to be successful, certain conditions had to be fulfilled: there should be a continuous flow of investors; the new investors must contribute to new funds; most investors must not demand full re-payment; investors must have a belief in some assets (which may be non-existent); a belief in the ownership of the assets (non-existent).

In the 1920s, the Ponzi Scheme ran for a few years and crumbled. He was jailed in Canada and deported in 1934. In 1899, a Brooklyn book keeper, William Miller, had used the same scheme to rake in $1 million. Earlier, Sarah Howe had employed a similar scheme to woo the ladies in Boston through 'Ladies Deposit', offering 8% monthly interest rate. She served three years in jail.

So, this nation has stood by and allowed this notorious young man (of about 36 years) to dupe us all these years! We did not learn any lesson from Pyram in the 1990s in which Tanko Rahman Shadow established the Pyram Loan and Savings Company at Accra New Town and touted the members of the public to invest in the company promising returns of 30 percent monthly interest. In spite of Bank of Ghana's directive to all those unregistered companies to stop operating, the R5 and Pyram continued, and at the end of the show, many people lost their savings, some committed suicide and got other people's family life disorganised. No lesson learnt from even Noble Dream with big edifices, and with the directors purchasing 4×4 vehicles for their parents, their… and their…What about DKM Diamond Microfinance Limited, God Is Love Fan Club – no lessons learnt?

And do we say NAM 1 is in Dubai facing criminal charges for failing to supply gold to Horizon Royal Diamond. And NAM 1 was interested in a joint venture gold mining business in a place called Oware in the Ashanti Region? And the Emirati have been duped over $51 million? Only?

Some of us have told our children the Twi proverb: 'Aserewa mo tam kese a, etu no hwe' (If the tiny bird wears over-sized loin-cloth, it drops). Likewise: Cut your coat according to your cloth (some say… according to your size). This is a loose translation in English of the Twi proverb. Where is the money to refund to the over 5,000 (only?) people? Kwaku Bonsam too? Millions of cedis? From Menzbank to Menzbanc to Menzgold, and always scheming to outwit the Bank of Ghana and the Securities and Exchanges Commission, and flouting Section 109 of Act 929? Wouldn't our children bide their time?

Fraud which was prevalent in Charles Dickens's time around the 1880 is beautifully captured in his Novel: 'The Adventures of Chuzzlewit'. In his public reading, Dickens described America as “…so maimed and lame, so full of sores and ulcers, foul to the eye and almost hopeless to the sense that her best friends turn from the loathsome creature with disgust.” Is Ghana gradually drifting there?

We may have pity for the politicians, soldiers, men of God and Satan, businessmen and the like who have allowed themselves to be hoodwinked by this smart young man. Some of us had decided to stay in one bank, not to be swayed by fake promises of certain banks. Take your crypto-currency; take your …We have lost some relationships for insisting on our “old traditional attitudes” to the search for money, because we know “all that glitters is not gold”. (Latin: Non omne quod nitet aurum est). And Sammy Gyamfi too? How much money did the President Nana Addo collect from NAM 1 for his political campaign? Do some people think they get political recognition by insulting the top hierarchy of their political opponents? Well, let them carry on; but some of us will be watching.

Forgive us if we had sounded too abrasive. We are not doing this to destroy anybody, but we are doing so in the best interest of Ghana. Do we know why the exchange rate is always going high in Ghana in favour of the foreign currencies? People, including politicians, who have been given dollars (and other foreign currencies) to travel would go to the black market to exchange them for cedis.

Charles Dickens wrote of Scrooge (in 'Christmas Carol'): “Scrooge! A squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner! Should this be the episodic end of NAM 1's 'smartness'?

Africanus Owusu – Ansah

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Africanus Owusu - Ansah
Africanus Owusu - Ansah, © 2019

This author has authored 93 publications on Modern Ghana.
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