Dr Ernest Addison, Governor, Bank of Ghana (BoG), has urged owners and directors of banks and other financial institutions to strictly adhere to corporate governance standards to avert challenges that have bewildered the sector in recent years.
He said even though banks and other financial institutions which had their licences revoked by the BoG were highly under-capitalized and were under financial stress, the seemingly lack of regard for corporate governance standards played critical role in the eventual collapse of such institutions.
"We need to ask ourselves how come none of the banks that had their licences revoked were foreign banks. It tells you the nature of Ghanaians and how we manage our businesses.
“First, they want to run these businesses as owner executives. A lot of these banks were literally owned by one or two people. There are no corporate governance standards in place, they took decisions on loans that were granted and granted a lot of these loans to themselves and their related parties.
"I think Ghanaians need to look at the importance of corporate governance standards in our businesses if we want our businesses to survive and endeavour," he explained.
Dr Addison made the call when he delivered a lecture on the Financial Sector Reforms at the University of Ghana's 71st Annual New Year School and Conference in Accra.
Addressing the recent banking sector clean up, the Governor also refuted claims that the BoG had purposely targeted indigenous banks, particularly UT and Capital Banks in the exercise, adding that these banks were deeply insolvent despite continuous capitalisation by the BoG.
"We gave these banks the opportunity to correct their insolvency and we tried to exhaust all the options. But to start with UT Bank submitted capital restoration plan which was not credible, essentially requiring the government to take over the bank's portfolio of bad debts which it had created through loans that were granted to borrowers, sometimes above regulatory limits and loans that had become uncoverable," Dr Addison said.
Between 2018 and 2019, the BoG revoked the licences of seven banks, 347 microfinance companies and 23 Savings and Loans companies for various infractions ranging from under-capitalization, poor lending and risk management practices and corporate governance standards, among others.
Dr Addison said even though the revocation of the licences of these financial institutions was a painful act, it was necessary in order to restore discipline to ensure a financially viable sector and the protection of depositors' funds.
He said the exercise had begun yielding dividend as the sector was now better positioned as better capitalised, liquid, stronger and more resilient.
As part of efforts to maintain decency and a continuous discipline to avert recurrence of such issues, the Governor of the BoG said it had put in place various reforms including enhancement to the regulatory regime to strengthen the regulatory gaps exploited by some banks.
He said measures had also been instated to sharpen the banks' monitoring, supervision and enforcement tools and enhancing the capacity and ethical culture of the BoG's supervisory department and that of the industry.
He assured Ghanaians of the BoG's commitment toward ensuring that all persons found culpable in the collapse of the banks and financial institutions were brought to justice.