Onward Victim Threatens Hunger Strike

A VICTIM of the Bank of Ghana Onward Investment Limited saga, whose investment has been locked up, has given the Central Bank an ultimatum to urgently disburse the funds or he would embark on a hunger strike. Frank Asante, a building engineer who said he had invested over GH˘5,500 in Onward Investments Company Limited, said he would do anything to redeem his money and called on the Bank of Ghana to disclose publicly how much was locked up in the accounts of the beleaguered company. He explained that a disclosure of the amount of money in the account would help all affected investors to know the next course of action to take. In all, over 6,000 people have had their investments frozen by BoG including all assets of Onward Investment Limited for operating without the appropriate documentation. Mr Asante, who said the development has affected his business told the CITY & BUSINESS GUIDE in an interview in Accra that he was ready to begin a hunger strike in front of the premises of the Bank of Ghana on a mat if it did not release the funds before the end of this week. According to him, visits to the Banking Supervision Division of BoG, the office of the governor, Parliament House and the Osu Castle, to follow up on the issue, had yielded no results. He blamed the Central Bank for its inefficiency in carrying out its supervisory role which had resulted in such a situation. Other victims had also noted that they would set themselves ablaze as the development had affected them psychologically. In separate interviews, some said they suspected that some officials of the Bank of Ghana had connived with the financial institution which operated four branches in the country for more than two years. Onward Investment operated branches in Accra, Kumasi, Sunyani and Techiman. It started business in Ghana in 2010, offering an initial interest rate of 25 percent for a trading cycle of 42 days. This was raised to 35 percent a year later. The attractive interest rate caught the attention of the people, including government officials, members of the Armed Forces, teachers and traders who invested huge sums of money with the assurance that they would get a higher return after six weeks. However, in the early part of this year, the Bank of Ghana raised an alarm, announcing that it had not licensed the company to either take deposits or to engage in foreign exchange trading. BoG added that operations of Onward Investments Limited were unauthorised and constituted a serious danger to the public. Since then, it had frozen the assets of the company. The fate of the company’s customers is thus uncertain. The affected victims have since come together to fight for their money and have been meeting every Sunday afternoon to deliberate on how to get their money. In Accra over 1,800 people have been affected.