Last week, about two hundred people hit the streets of Ghana’s Volta Regional capital Ho. They were very furious. They chanted and cried. Their problem? Some investment companies have bolted with their investments!
The companies had apparently made mouthwatering promises to these investors; I will rather not refer to them as unsuspecting.
Reports say people who invested between 380 and 450 Ghana cedis were to make margins of 5000 to 6000 cedis depending on the duration of one’s investments.
Anyway, that isn’t my worry. My concern is the demonstration held by these people, threatening to boycott the upcoming elections if the government does not retrieve their monies for them. According to them, they can’t be taken for granted since the Volta Region is the world bank of the governing National Democratic Congress.
So I get the impression the people gave government a hunch before deciding to allow these smart-thinking fraudsters fleece them of their hard earned, or rather, softy and easily earned cash. And they have the cojones (apologies to Kwadwo Akoto Boateng of the Citi Breakfast Show) to hold government to ransom with their vote.
But some Ghanaians too are just incredibly gullible! They are neither guided by any occurrences in the country, nor by common reasoning. How on earth could people be so fooled?
Only a few months ago, hundreds of people in the Brong Ahafo and Upper East Regions were left in similar fate when they fell prey to the love story of DKM Microfinance Company and some others. That loss was so huge it prompted immediate action from the Bank of Ghana; regulator of the financial sector.
It did not only begin a process to liquidate the assets of the company to pay off affected depositors, it also issued a list of microfinance companies in the country that were in good standing. This was a good step. Therefore, any person seeking to invest should have simply looked out for the prospective investment company from the Bank of Ghana’s 70-name list. So how could any reasonable man have been duped thereafter?
Some have sought to lay blame at the doorstep of the Central Bank for what they say is a failure of monitoring and supervision following the DKM saga. That granted, does anyone need the BoG to teach them how to safeguard their investment? The Bank has a mandate to protect depositors, investors and other consumers within the remits of a certain legal framework. So how is the bank faulted for anyone’s failed attempts at amassing wealth outside the rules of the game? Would the customers have shared their loot with the BoG if they succeeded in getting so much yields?
I have equally heard stories of how some borrowed from their friends and family members just to invest with these scammers.
A few years back, a school assignment sent me to one of the courts in Accra. The complainant, a middle aged Ghanaian woman, needed the court to help her retrieve money from a young man who had promised but failed to assist her acquire a United States visa despite paying huge sums to the young man. She was in court that day to register her displeasure at the pace of refunding. But the judge, who was by this time visibly angry retorted, “madam, I am not a money collecting company. If you don’t take care, I will have you arrested. Is the man an embassy for him to be giving you visas? I am rather doing you a favour so if you don’t want it…” The complainant said nothing. But it was enough warning to let her settle for the “little drops” pay back modality.
There have been a thousand and one similar stories, from fish farming investments to some weird susu schemes. Yet stories of evaporating microfinance schemes abound. I have heard more than enough stories that I no longer feel sorry for the so-called victims. In fact, I am indifferent. But for them to threaten the government, which had no hand in their decision to invest with those companies, is at best infantile. Maybe it is time greedy people who want to reap much more than they have sown, are dealt with in equal measure as the scammers. They are as guilty as the fraudsters.