Faces behind Pensions Alliance Trust uncovered

More issues continue to pop up on the management of the controversial tier-two of workers’ pension, which has resulted in a nationwide strike by some public and civil service workers involving not less than 12 labour associations.

So far, the controversial tier-two scheme has accrued to GH¢1.64 billion—far more than the almost GH¢450 million the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Haruna Iddrisu, indicated at his recent press conference following the one-week long strike.

According to the Chief Executive of the National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA), Laud Senanu, the GH¢1.64 billion figure represents contributions from the public, private sector workers as well as the interest accrued on investment of the funds.

Public sector workers are up in arms against government over the management of the tier-two pension scheme and are demanding full disclosure and a complete control over the management of funds accrued.

Government insists it had appointed Pensions Alliance Trust (PAT) to manage the funds on behalf of the workers, giving rise to the ongoing workers’ strike.

Addressing a press conference in Accra yesterday, Mr Senanu said the workers’ contributions were lodged safely into the Temporary Pension Fund Account (TPFA) at the Bank of Ghana, saying that the GH¢1.64 billion was in three components.

The first is the private sector workers’ contributions which were paid to SSNIT and later transferred into the TPFA. That amount, he said, had netted a total of GH¢521,885,987.36.

The second is the public sector workers’ contributions paid to the Controller and Accountant General’s Department and later transferred to the TPFA, which had grossed GH¢488,768,270.73; and the third is the investment component which had accumulated to over GH¢600 million—all amounting to GH¢1,641,11,027.70.

Pensions Alliance Trust

The Pensions Alliance Trust (PAT), the darling company of the government, has been rejected by the striking workers who are saying that they have their fund managers they are ready to roll with.

DAILY GUIDE’s investigations into the current pension rumpus have made interesting revelations, including the composition of its board of directors.

First on the list is Emmanuel Botchwey, owner of Regimanuel Grey Estates, shareholder and director of Fortiz—the company which acquired Merchant Bank for GH¢90 million in a very controversial deal which took the nation by storm in the last quarter of 2013 and the first half of this year. The GH¢90 million was later given back to Fortiz to recapitalise Merchant Bank which has been renamed Universal Merchant Bank (UMB).

It would be recalled that during the discussions on the Merchant Bank acquisition and lately in the discussions over the state of the Tier 2 pension funds, policy think-tank, IMANI-Ghana, questioned the Bank of Ghana and government on whether it was true that part of the tier-two pension funds had been made available to the owners of Fortiz in their attempt to take over Merchant Bank.

Some other financial analysts were certain that the pension funds had been diverted into the purchase of the state-owned bank since Mawuli Hedo, a director of Fortiz, was also a director of Firstbanc—the administrators of the tier-two funds, kept in Temporary Pension Fund Account (TPFA) with the central bank.

Firstbanc as a group has been administrator of the TPFA since the year 2010 when the Bank of Ghana and government failed to transfer the tier-two contributions to fund managers, who by law are supposed to manage the tier-two.

The revelation of Emmanuel Botchwey as a director of the PAT therefore brings to two, the personalities who were both instrumental in the purchase of Merchant Bank and who also double as interested parties in the tier-two funds of workers.

Another name which seems to have aroused the suspicion of workers is that of Akwasi Addae-Boahene, who is also a member of the Board of Directors of Pensions Alliance Trust, per information contained on their website—pensionalliancetrust.com

Akwasi Addae-Boahene was a former board member of the Savanna Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) which was dissolved after the massive rot at the authority which led to the loss of millions of taxpayers’ money through dubious projects.

Not only was he a member of the SADA Board that superintended over the rot, Akwasi Addae-Boahene was also directly implicated by the probe report and was asked to refund GH¢30,000 which he wrongfully took from SADA.

Another name on the list of directors for Pensions Alliance Trust is that of the chairperson of the Board of Directors, Mrs Rosa Kudoadzi, who also has close links with the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration.

Rosa Kudoadzi, who works as a partner at Bentsi?Enchill, Letsa & Ankomah—a reputable law firm in Accra—was appointed by the late President John Evans Atta Mills as the vice chairperson of the Ghana Investment Promotion Council under the chairmanship of Ishmael Yamson.

Another name on the board is Jihad Hijazi of Africa Automobile Limited fame, who was earlier this year in the news for alleged illegal ECG power connection by his company to the tune of GH¢43,685.06.

This was after the same company had failed to pay an amount of GH¢36,248.31 of electricity it consumed from 2001 to 2004, and was disconnected by the ECG.

They were arrested in 2010 and put in the dock for conspiracy to commit crime.

African Automobile Limited also had huge tax liability to the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and had variously appeared before the Judgement Debt Commission and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament.

The other Director of Pension Alliance Trust, according to their website, is Janet Naana Thompson, who is said to be a member of the Council of Elders of the ruling NDC.

However, Pensions Alliance Trust said it had not received any money in respect of Tier 2 contributions till date from the government or any of its agencies on behalf of public sector workers.

The company was reacting to allegations that it had received huge sums of money from the government in respect of the public workers’ Tier 2 contributions.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, PAT posited also that it had not been licensed by NPRA as a fund manager or custodian as had been peddled by a section of the media, and did not operate as such.

“This means that Pensions Alliance Trust Limited does not directly receive and or keep pension contributions. “We assure our private sector clients and the general public that we are committed to delivering on our core mandate as corporate trustees,” it emphasized.

source : Daily Guide

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