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24.01.2006 Crime & Punishment

Mysterious Deals At Unibank

By Public Agenda

... As bank official flees to London ...Dept. Gen Manager says trip was a coincidence ..Minister of Justice walks petitioner out of his office A case of breach of trust between Unibank and one of its customers, Mr. Robert Tankuna Akyeyom is just unfolding.

Mr. Akyeyom was a civil servant for most part of his youth. Along the line he decided to say good bye to bureaucracy at the civil service and went into distilling alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages at Madina.

On September 8, 2005 Mr. Akyeyom applied for a loan with his bank, Unibank to expand his business. According to Akyeyom, the Customer Relations Manager of Unibank, Charles Kingsley Akuetteh was detailed to handle his loan application.

“The Customer Relations Manager requested a collateral security and I presented an indenture No. AC 2670/83 and Land Title Certificate N0. GA/10362 Vol.35, Folio 126 belonging to Julian Doduo Darko”, Akyeyom said in a petition dated November 16, 2005 to the Governor of the Bank of Ghana.

He said after submitting the original documents to Akuetteh, Unibank's Customer Relations Manage, he (Akuetteh) 'pleaded with me to join a Mrs. Kafui Heletsi, a Makola business woman to my collateral to secure a similar loan from the bank, which plea was refused.” Mr. Akyeyom added that on Friday, September 9, 2005 Akuetteh officially introduced Mrs. Heletsi to him (Akyeyom) at the bank's conference room.

Akyeyom explained that three days after he handed the documents as collateral to Akuetteh, he went to the bank to acquaint himself with the progress of his loan, only for the Customer Relations Manager to tell him that his documents were missing. “I could not believe my ears how documents could fly out of the bank in less than two days.”

He said he smelt something fishy and reported Akuetteh's conduct to the General Manager of Unibank, Twumasi A. Sarpong, who is now Deputy Managing Director.

Akyeyom said Mr. Sarpong promised that he would do anything, within his powers to retrieve the collateral for him. But unknowing to Akyeyom, Akuetteh was on his way out of the country. He said when he got wind that Akuetteh was traveling outside the country, he hinted the police and personally arranged for the police to arrest Akuetteh at the airport, but they got there minutes after the aircraft Akuetteh was flying in had taken off.

According to him, he confronted the bank's officials and was told that Akuetteh had resigned from the bank and had left for the United Kingdom to study for a doctorate degree. Akyeyom alleged that his own investigations revealed that the collateral was used to grant Mrs. Heletsi a loan of two billion cedis, but Twumasi Sarpong dismissed this saying the bank does not grant loans on photocopies of collateral securities. “Nobody can use another person's security without his/her consent".

When Public Agenda asked Twumasi Sarpong to explain the circumstances surrounding Akuetteh's resignation from the bank and his hurried trip to the UK, he explained that at the time Akyeyom lodged his complaint Akeutteh had resigned from the bank and gave the bank one week's notice. He said if he knew that Akuetteh acted unprofessionally, the bank would have dismissed him, adding that it was just by coincidence Akuetteh traveled out of the country. Twumasi Sarpong explained that anytime title deeds are brought to the bank, the legal department issues receipts and since Akyeyom cannot produce any receipts to show he deposited the document with the bank his case cannot be taken seriously.

Sensing danger, Akyeyom reported the case to the Nima police station, which invited Unibank officials for interrogation. According to Akyeyom the CID team handling the case, strangely developed cold feet towards the case, apparently under pressure from the police headquarters. Subsequently, the DSP at the Nima police station advised Akyeyom to talk to his lawyers to file a civil case against the bank. That was how the case ended at the Nima police headquarters. Akyeyom alleged that behind the scene, Unibank was trying to reproduce the indenture at the Land Title Registry. He found that some staff at Land Title Registry had succeeded in duplicating the documents for the bank and were on the verge of delivering them when he petitioned the Principal Recording Officer to stop the deal. In a letter dated November 22, 2005 to the Registrar of the Land Title Registry, he said “I have the information that the bank has applied for copies of the documents from your Registry to enable them to process the said financial assistance for me.” I shall be very grateful if I am given a copy of Unibank's letter requesting the said documents to be made if such a move has taken place, and also any other relevant information pertaining to the request by the bank.”

The Principal Recording Officer of the Land Title Registry in a reply dated 12th December, 2005 confirmed that “we received an application from Unibank Limited requesting for certified true copies of the property of Juliana Doduo Darko with Land certificate GA. 10362.” The letter assured Akyeyom that “in accordance with your instructions contained in the declaration dated 29th September, 2005, we declined the request.” In his petition to the Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Akyeyom alleged that the General Manager of Unibank and his director tried to “coax me to allow them to produce a duplicate copy of the said document which, he the General Manager claimed was lost from the Land Title Registry, which I refused.”

Earlier in October, 2005 the lawyers of Akyeyom, Akufo-Addo, Prempeh and Co wrote to Unibank demanding the original indenture from the bank. “You are to note that if we do not hear from you within two weeks of this letter we would spark the legal process against your bank without fear or hesitation.” But Primeattorneys, counsel for Unibank in a reply dated November 8, 2005 fired back that “Our instructions are that the bank cannot verify the truth or otherwise of the allegation made by your client against, Mr. Charles Akuetteh, as the said Charles Akuetteh is no longer in the employment of the bank.” Counsel for Unibank further argues that in previous communications the bank had with Akyeyom, he admitted that he did not deposit an original land title certificate with the bank, rather a photocopy of the said title certificate. “We wish to state further that there is no record of the said property being accepted by and used as security for any facility granted by the bank either to your client or Mrs. Heletsi (mentioned in your letter).”

The bank's counsel however offered an olive branch to Akyeyom's lawyers. “Nonetheless, subject to the consent of your client and the owner of the property being given, the bank is willing to apply for, and bear the costs of obtaining a certified true copy of the title certificate for your client, merely to ensure an amicable and speedy resolution of a matter which we do not believe merits or warrants a protracted legal dispute.”

The Banking Supervision Division of the Bank of Ghana is strangely keeping mum over the saga involving Unibank. Since the Akyeyom's petition was referred to the Banking Supervision Department in November 2005, it is still gathering dust at the office of head of the division. He has to minute it to any of his ten staff to take action.

Akyeyom's petition to the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General, Mr. Ayikoi Otoo has also hit a snag. On Thursday, January 19th, 2005 when Akyeyom hopefully walked into the office of the Minister of Justice to seek justice, he had a cold reception. Akyeyom alleged that on seeing him, the Minister of Justice blurted out, “What do you want me to do for you? I am not the police, I am not working with Land Title and I am not working at Unibank. If you want your case to be investigated go to the police to do that. You can go to the Land Title and process new documents”, the Minister of Justice allergedly told Akyeyom as he waved him out of his office. With the Minister of Justice's doors shut on him, it looks like there's no resting place for Akyeyom.

Meanwhile the owner of the property is piling pressure on Akyeyom to produce his original documents. The implication is that though a new land title can be processed for Akyeyom, if it is true that the original documents were used to grant loans to Mrs. Heletsi and in case she defaults in paying the loan, the bank could still auction the property to pay up the loan.

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