From Richard Owusu-Akyaw, Kumasi
Universal Merchant Bank (UMB) is allegedly seeking to attract clients of Unibank into their fold after the latter had been declared insolvent by the Bank of Ghana.
Yesterday, a female staff of Universal Merchant Bank (UMB) is alleged to have approached confused customers of Unibank, trying to cajole them to withdraw their monies and save with UMB.
In view of this, the slim lady, who was in suit and trousers, mistook Listowell, a reporter with Ashh FM, as one of the troubled clients of Unibank and gave him a complimentary card, bearing the name of the ‘Relationship Manager of UMB, Jerry Owusu-Boateng’, in order for the troubled customers to seek refuge at UMB.
But in a telephone interaction with Osei-Boateng, Relations Manager of UMB, he denied sending a staff to sway Unibank clients into their fold.
Yesterday, scores of clients of Unibank in the Ashanti regional capital, Kumasi, thronged various branches of the bank to withdraw their money, following Bank of Ghana’s announcement that the bank was insolvent and that KPMG had been asked to take temporary control.
In the early hours of yesterday, clients thronged the Kejetia branch of Unibank to withdraw their savings.
Speaking to one of the clients, Alberta Osei, she noted that on Tuesday evening, she had a call from her daughter in the national capital (Accra) that Unibank is on the verge of collapse and that BoG has taken over the running of the bank.
She told the media that she was quite disappointed in the bank, since they could not send a single SMS message, telling their customers about what has happened .
Madam Alberta was emphatic, saying: “I will withdraw all my money and I won’t save with them again”.
According to her, the bank’s stone-silence has fuelled the panic withdrawal.
About nine o’clock in the morning, the Kejetia Unibank branch ceased working, with an announcement that the network of the bank was down and that customers should wait till 12 o’clock noon before they could cash money.
The Chronicle gathered that the Automatic Teller Machines (ATM) of the bank across the metropolis was down.
The Chronicle also observed that the flag of the insolvent bank was flying at half-mast across the metropolis.
At the Adum branch of Unibank, hundreds of people, including foreign nationals trooped into the banking hall to demand their money.
By midday, two white Toyota pickups with the inscription, Topp Securities, were sighted with two armed police men bringing money to the bank.
Apostle James Antwi, a customer of Unibank, who was due to withdraw GHc2,500 from his account expressed worry about his inability to withdraw the money.
He stated: “I have GHc12,000 in my account and I would like to take everything out, following the delay I have endured.”
Antwi continued that he was going for his passport to open a new account at Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) and transfer his funds to the bank.
Mr. Kingsley Ofori, another customer, explained to this paper that he wanted to withdraw his money, following the announcement by BoG.
Reacting to the BoG statement assuring Ghanaians that their funds were intact, Mr. Ofori noted: “I don’t want to take chances. This is Ghana and anything can happen”, expressing his worry about the spate at which Ghanaian banks are collapsing.
According to him, Unibank made their services so cheap that some services were not charged and he believes that contributed to the collapse of the bank.
Soon after mid-day, the ATM machines and the banking services came back to life and the customers were able to carry out their transactions with the bank.