Finally, the final chapter in the dramatic saga that the Menzgold debacle has turned out to be, looks to be ready to unfold. For most it will herald a collective sigh of relief, although for many other it will mean an end to a most entertaining story. Indeed, over the past year, the saga of Menzgold taking on some of the most revered of the States regulatory institutions, daring them with impunity has ranged between a test of the legal framework for the regulation of portfolio investment in Ghana, to simply being an excursion into the theatre of the absurd.
The impending final chapter in this saga will befittingly be steeped in drama. The Economic and Organized Crimes Office, EOCO, will try to identify and seize properties and financial assets owned by the shareholders of Menzgold and their proxies. Then the seized properties will be auctioned. Finally, the proceeds of those auctions will be distributed to the thousands of customers duped by one must go down as the biggest financial scam ever executed on the Ghanaian general public.
Hopefully, events will smoothly follow this script. However, there is the need for utmost caution and complete professionalism in executing the script because there is still plenty that could go wrong.
Firstly, EOCO could conceivably make a mess of its task of identifying the properties that should be seized. Even if EOCO identifies and seizes every property and financial asset that it is supposed to, their value will certainly fall far short of the monies that Menzgold currently owes to its victims, since much of the investment made has already been paid out to the earliest customers as returns on investments.
There is also the likelihood that the seizure of some properties and assets will get bogged down in court cases as proxies of the Menzgold shareholders strive to hide their ill-gotten gains by pretending it is not actually theirs and in some cases those proxies will actually try to claim those properties as their own.
The auctions themselves will likely generate their own controversies as politicians and other interest groups claim that those organizing the auctions are trying to personally gain themselves or influence the sales in favour of family, friends and cronies.
Finally, there will inevitably be lots of acrimony as the authorities try to share the proceeds of the auctions among investors who are being owed far more than is available.
In all these stages, government and its agencies will have to stay in the right, despite all the pressures and lobbying that they will inevitably face. Indeed, government itself will need to resist any temptation to put down public funds to fill up any emergent financial holes that may emerge during the process; the use of public money in any way to settle investors in Menzgold would amount to a precedent that would have dire repercussions in the future.
Ultimately, investors in Menzgold need to get used to the fact that whatever they recoup out of the impending process is more than they deserve. That lesson has to be taught to people who think government and society in general can be held responsible for their personal blunders, even those where they were clearly warned officially, but chose to ignore those warnings because of what they thought they could gain.