The head office of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in Accra is being inundated on a daily basis with complaints from aggrieved people who invested their lifetime savings in some investment houses but are now unable to redeem part or all of their investments due to liquidity constraints.
The complainants, who include pensioners and people who have retired prematurely as a result of occupational accidents, among others, have been forced to use SEC as the last resort to compel the investment companies to honour their obligations to them.
The GRAPHIC BUSINESS was told during a visit to the SEC head office on April 3 and 4 that some of the complainants have been chasing their investments for more than 24 months in some cases, but 13 months on the average.
However, those who have been able to lodge their complaints with SEC have been scheduled for hearing to enable the commission to take action.
Subsequently, they called for tougher actions, including the sale of the assets of the companies, to defray the debt owed them to avoid what they described as “premature deaths from heart attacks”.
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Some of the complainants who spoke to the paper on grounds of anonymity looked visibly exhausted from the shock of not being able to redeem what they had worked hard to invest.
Some explained that they had saved over many years just to enable them to live a comfortable life after retirement.
“I have been chasing the two companies I placed my investments with for more than nine months,” a 62-year-old retired public servant told the paper.
“It’s not easy to set aside money from your meagre salary as investments but I did because I knew its value.
Today, see where I am.
I should be resting at home.
“They came with sweet words and I trusted them because the returns they quoted for me was within range and, therefore, I had no cause to doubt them. At least I knew that if they quoted interests a little over the prevailing Treasury bill rate, that should be fine by me and I heeded,” she stated.
The retiree, a mother of three, described her ordeal almost in tears.
“I had my children when I was over 40 years so they are still in school.
Their father has passed on, so I am their breadwinner.
I made these savings for them to complete school but see what is happening to me,” she said as she dried her tears.
A 64-year-old male pensioner described his experience as most unfortunate, having been chasing the company he invested his money with for more than 12 months without any positive answers.
“My hopes are dashed and I even do not have money to buy my medications on time.
I have no one to fall on but knowing this, I saved to enable me to continue buying my drugs till the Lord calls me,” he said.
According to him, he was forced to seek the help of SEC because of what he described as the “tortuous treatment” he received from the company he invested his money with.
Others, including workers in both the private and public sectors, also said they left their offices daily to chase their investments because of the news of scams and other negative information they heard about some of the companies they invested with.
One said “the lavish lifestyle of some of the owners of these companies makes it difficult for us to even believe them when they speak to us”.
The complainants called on the government to act fast to salvage what they called “the dire situation which can explode if not resolved”.
One pensioner also said “the company I invested with keeps telling me the money is with the state-owned Consolidated Bank Ghana (CBG).
They tell me the government has not released the funds it keeps telling the people about for the banks to pay off the investors. Now, we do not know who to believe and our blood pressure goes up daily.”
Cost of banking sector clean-up
The government has consistently indicated that it had spent some GH¢12 billion to clean up the banking sector.
However, the banks that are supposed to receive the money to sort the finance houses and other asset management companies that have money with them seem not to have received the funds.
There are reports that the money trickles in, hence the challenges many of these cmpanies face presently.
The phenomenon has compelled some finance houses, which are not owed by any state institution or defunct bank, to take advantage of the situation to have their way at the expense of their clients.
SEC allays fears
Meanwhile, at a press conference in Accra last week, the Director-General (DG) of the SEC, Reverend Daniel Ogbamey Tetteh, admitted to some of the challenges that some people who had invested in some of the companies under its supervision were going through and the numerous complaints it received on a daily basis.
He said since 2018, the commission had directed some fund.