The controversy surrounding the collapse of the Capital Bank continues to deepen, one year on.
While the inspirational preacher and former Board Chairman of the defunct bank, Pastor Mensa Otabil, says his position was not an executive one and he was, therefore, not involved in the day-to-day management of the bank, three experts in corporate governance and banking say he cannot be absolved from blame in the circumstances leading to the collapse of the bank on August 14, 2017.
The three — Mr Emmanuel Asiedu-Mante, a retired Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana (BoG), Dr Richmond Atuahene, a private consultant on corporate governance in banking, and Mr Justice Awuku-Sao, the Chief Executive Officer of the Institute of Directors (IoD) — said as the Chairman of the Board of Directors, Pastor Otabil was responsible for the leadership of the board, whose mandate was to ensure that the bank functioned effectively and efficiently.
As a result, they concurred in separate interviews that the collapse of the bank should be blamed on the board and its members, irrespective of whether or not they were executive or non-executive directors.
They told the Daily Graphic yesterday that Pastor Otabil’s statement that he was a non-executive director who was “not involved in the day-to-day management and operations of the bank” was unfortunate and a confirmation of the lack of appreciation of the responsibilities of directors in the country.
“A director, either an executive or non-executive, is a director and the job of a director is to give policy direction to an institution,” Mr Asiedu-Mante, who retired from the BoG in 2006, said.
“At the board meeting, nobody distinguishes an executive director from a non-executive director because data and information are put before the board and you the members are supposed to read and interrogate them, and based on that take a decision to shape the direction of the institution,” he said.
Like Mr Asiedu-Mante, Dr Atuahene and Mr Awuku-Sao relied on the role of directors in the Companies Act 1963, Act 179, to make their point that “everything in a company rises and falls with the directors”.
“Normally, we say that the fish rots from the head. Every corporate failure is traceable to the board,” Mr Awuku-Sao said.
Reason for silence
The three experts were reacting to a statement issued by Pastor Otabil, the Founder and General Overseer of the International Central Gospel Church (ICGC), yesterday, exactly a year after the withdrawal of the bank’s licence by the central bank for illiquidity and deficiency in capital.
In his first comment on the matter, Pastor Otabil said his position in the bank “was a non-executive role”.
“I was, therefore, not involved in the day-to-day management and operations of the bank,” he said.
The former board chairman also explained that he had remained silent on the matter, “not as an admission of guilt but out of respect for the due process and ongoing investigations”.
He added that he was cooperating with state institutions investigating what led to the collapse of the bank.
“I have been invited by EOCO and I have submitted myself to its processes and answered all the questions faithfully.
“As a believer in the rule of law, I will continue to cooperate with the mandated institutions of state as they complete their investigations.
“I am confident that, in the process, the national interest and the rights of all parties involved will be protected,” he said in the statement.
Tracing the circumstances leading to his acceptance of the board chairmanship of the bank, Pastor Otabil said he did so in a bid to help strengthen a promising Ghanaian enterprise that had potential but also challenges.
“I was excited about the prospects of a young man from a disadvantaged background who was daring to create opportunities and employment,” he said.
In the course of work, he said, some decisions made turned out well, while others did not turn out as anticipated.
“As far as I can tell, everything was done with the best of intentions and the interest of various stakeholders in mind.
“My foremost concern, as has been the case over the past year, is for the well-being of those who lost their jobs and those who may have been adversely affected in any way as a result of these developments,” he said.
He expressed his sympathy to former employees who lost their jobs, saying: “My heart goes out to them and to their dependants. I continue to pray for God’s guidance and sustenance as they navigate the course of their lives,” he said.