President John Dramani Mahama has announced that DKM and the Diamond Winners, two microfinance companies accused of swindling millions of Ghana cedis out of several individuals and organisations, will not go without punishment.
Countless clients, including students, security officers, media practitioners, lecturers, members of the clergy and traditional chiefs, suffered a sudden trauma following the inability of the companies to refund their investments after the Bank of Ghana reportedly had suspended the operations of those firms among other micro-financial corporations said to be either engaged in illegal activities or running unlicensed.
The development saw months of street demonstrations repeatedly rekindled throughout the country as hopes of recovery increasingly faded for traumatised clients. Both government and the Bank of Ghana came under sustained pressure from an enraged public who accused the Bank of Ghana of having consciously allowed the companies to dupe the citizenry before it identified them as illegal operators and also slammed government for refusing to go after the alleged fraudsters.
But speaking Tuesday in Bolgatanga, the Upper East regional capital, the President said the two companies would be hunted down and brought to book. President Mahama has since Monday been on a working visit to the region as part of a nationwide trip dubbed: “Accounting to the People Tour.”
“We have warned over and over again that a lot of these companies do not exist. They are not licensed. Many of them are not licensed at all. These are conmen who want to dupe our people. So, the security agencies must be on the alert and be able to stop them as early as possible. I will ask the security services to intensify their efforts to find out wherever they are and bring them to justice,” the President said.
Victims seek chiefs’ backing
President Mahama’s assurance comes after the Upper East Regional House of Chiefs, who had received a petition in the last April from ‘swindled clients’ seeking a radical action from government through the intervention of the chiefs, had shared the pains of the clients in a meeting of paramount chiefs with the President Tuesday.
“Some action has been taken on DKM. But we have another one called Diamond Winners. The number of customers is over two thousand. And they invested twenty-seven million Ghana cedis. They took them to court.
“Judgement was given in favour of the clients with warrants issued for them to be arrested. Up to now, zero. We don’t know where they are. So, if you can step in so that this problem can be solved,” the President of the Upper East Regional House of Chiefs and Paramount Chief of the Sakote Traditional Area, Naba Sigri Bewong, told President Mahama.
Suicide swells as hopes of recovery dim
At least 1,400 people invested Gh¢11, 829, 371 at DKM in the Upper East Region alone and about 2,000 clients reportedly put in a total amount of 27 million Ghana cedis at Diamond Winners in the same region.
Whilst it has remained difficult to pin down the exact number of individuals bearing the untold misery of the ‘missing investments’ across the region, some recent suicide cases known to the public have been linked to the sudden fall of the firms once flooded by individuals and groups seeking a ‘financial paradise’ perhaps too ‘generous’ to be ‘genuine’.
Some of the victims of the reported scam have been telling Starr News marriages are breaking apart, students are dropping out of school and some young people are relocating from the region to faraway areas in search of odd-looking jobs.
“It’s a serious matter! You sleep by your wife; you want to touch your wife; your wife says DKM. You want your wife to provide you tea? that DKM. I’m facing problem in marriage. Anything at all I want my wife to do, she says DKM because I used all my investments, my suffering of fifteen years all in DKM. I can no longer eat three times a day. And I’m telling Mahama that if he [doesn’t] do anything about it, he knows that I am coming from Volta Region, and I will go to the Volta Region to campaign against him!” Kofi Amatepey, a businessman in Bolgatanga, once groaned.
Students turn ‘kayaye’ due to locked fortunes
Young people, according to observers, dropping out of school and turning into station porters, locally referred to as “kayaye”, because either their parents or sponsors have lost their hard-earned fortunes to the gains they only dreamt about with the collapsed companies.
“One girl, after finishing JHS, went to Kumasi to do kayaye. She gave the money to her mother. She got aggregate 12. The mother invested the money with a microfinance company. The money was locked there.
“When she came, the mother couldn’t pay the fees. She had to go back to do kayaye. Many of our children are now in Kumasi because they cannot pay their fees because of the locked monies at the microfinance companies. Many have stopped education because of this issue,” Charles Ayambire, one of the leaders of the aggrieved clients, told Starr News.
He added: “There are other cases. People have collected their retirement benefits and they have lost those monies after investing them with these companies. Businesses are collapsing. If government comes in, the children, too, who have gone down south will come back home.”