Business News of Thursday, 22 March 2018
Scores of customers of uniBank became angry, frustrated and worried when their attempts to withdraw money from the bank’s automated teller machines (ATMs) Wednesday morning failed, after the Bank of Ghana (BoG) had handed over the management of the bank to KPMG, an accounting and auditing firm.
The ATMs could not dispense money in the morning until about 12 noon, a situation that caused panic and fear among some customers of the bank.
Some of the agitated customers expressed fear about the possibility of losing their money under the new arrangement.
Even notices posted at the various branches of the bank by KPMG, the new administrator of the bank, assuring the customers that their money was safe and secure could hardly calm the customers’ nerves.
Notices posted at the various branches of the bank read: “Dear valued customer, we wish to emphasise that the bank is in full operations and depositors’ funds are safe and intact. Management wishes to urge all customers and stakeholders to remain calm.
“Business operations will, however, resume on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 at 12 noon at all branches. From Thursday, 22 March, the bank will open for business at the normal operating hours.”
At a news conference in Accra last Tuesday, the Governor of the BoG, Dr Ernest Addison, announced a takeover of uniBank due to challenges facing the bank.
The takeover, according to him, was caused by weak supervisory standards and operations at the bank.
A statement issued by the BoG stated that “uniBank persistently suffered liquidity shortfalls and consistently breached its cash reserve requirement”.
When the Daily Graphic visited the Kokomlemle branch of uniBank, it observed that some customers had become agitated, apparently because the bank had not been opened to the public as of 9:30 a.m., while they could also not use their ATM cards to access their funds.
One customer who went to the bank later in the day, hoping to withdraw money with his ATM card but could not do so, expressed anger at the bank authorities, questioning why the ATM machines should be affected by the takeover.
He eventually withdrew cash, after almost an hour of waiting, when the ATM was restored to dispense cash to customers.
Another customer who gave his name as Mr Henry Nyanzu told the Daily Graphic that he did not panic when he heard about the takeover of the bank because it was strictly a managerial issue that had no bearing on depositors’ funds.
He said he deposited money at the Tarkwa branch of uniBank last Tuesday (March 20, 2018), with the intention of withdrawing it in Accra, only to be inconvenienced by the new order.
Unlike Mr Nyanzu, one other customer, Mr Harry Kutor, said he was not comfortable with the current development because the security of his funds was at stake.
He said his sister in Britain sent him money last Friday to execute a project but as of yesterday the money had not hit his account, after several enquiries at the bank.
“In fact, the takeover has got me worried because anything can happen. I have been expecting the money from my sister since last week, but up till now it has not come,” Mr Kutor told the Daily Graphic.
There was gloom on the face of Mr Charles Addy, a customer, who parried the assurance from the BoG that depositors’ funds were safe.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic, Mr Addy argued that the very central bank that had announced few weeks ago that it had confidence in uniBank’s ability to take over the affairs of the Agricultural Development Bank (adb) had suddenly declared uniBank insolvent.
“I do not believe the assurance coming from the BoG because the bank is not truthful and consistent,” he said, adding that he got wind of the takeover of the UT Bank by the GCB Bank Ltd before it happened and so he quickly went for his money, but in the case of uniBank he did not receive any prior notice.
Some customers had converged on uniBank’s premises at Achimota to make withdrawals before the bank opened for official business after 12 noon.
Normal business resumed at the branches of the bank that the Daily Graphic visited after 12 p.m.
At the Osu branch and the headquarters at the World Trade Centre, business was normal when the Daily Graphic got there about 12:45 p.m. and 1:30 p.m., respectively.
The Head of Audit at KPMG, Mr Anthony Sarpong, told reporters that the firm had taken stock of the assets and liabilities of uniBank following the takeover.
Meanwhile, the Head of Marketing at uniBank, Mr Felix Donkor, has expressed optimism about the bank’s ability to bounce back to operate on its own steam, adding:
“We will collaborate with KPMG and we are confident that six months from now the bank will be back on its feet.”