By Aishat Salihu
No fewer than 70,000 investors have become collateral damage from a cleanup of Ghana’s banking industry which has given rise to no access to their savings.
The crackdown, which consequently reduced the number of lenders by a third and saw the closure of 23 savings and loans companies, also triggered a run on fund managers, who could not sell their holdings fast enough to meet demand.
As a result, has tied up as much as 9 billion cedis ($1.6 billion) of investments, more than a third of the 25 billion cedis in assets that private fund managers oversee for retail and institutional investors.
Although, the nation’s markets regulator is looking into whether 21 fund managers violated rules by placing their clients’ money into illiquid assets while the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has stepped up the pressure, blocking these money managers from accepting new investments for fear they may use the funds to pay out existing investors.
As much as 5 billion cedis is tied up in unlisted bonds, direct private-equity stakes and other deals with small- and medium-sized businesses, according to the SEC another 4 billion cedis is stuck in fixed-term investments with banks rescued during the cleanup, savings and loans companies, and microlenders.
Meanwhile, SEC is yet to release a list of all the fund managers it is investigating but the number of fund managers has reportedly dropped to 140 in 2018 from 155 a year earlier as some voluntarily shut down and the licenses of others were revoked, according to the SEC.
An 11.2 billion-cedis bailout for lenders that were closed down and another package of about 925 million cedis for microcredit companies whose licenses were revoked is helping to release some of the funds locked up in those segments.