In its drive to “name and shame” delinquent borrowers, the Liberia Bankers Association (LBA) has identified several key politicians – including presidential hopefuls – who the LBA says have failed to resettle their indebtedness to various banks in the country.
Big names, ‘small money’
The listing contains several political heavyweights, owing amounts that appear relatively small when measured against their social status, which led to LBA to conclude earlier that debtors were intentionally refusing to settle their obligations to the banks.
For example, international football star and political leader of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), Senator George Manneh Weah, who owes Ecobank Liberia an amount of US$3,887. Another political figure, telecommunications mogul and standard bearer of the All Liberian
Party (ALP), Benoni Urey, owes Ecobank an amount of US$1,897 and is yet to resettle his indebtedness to the bank, according to the LBA.
Mr. Urey secured the money for his company, Sarafina Ventures Communication Incorporated.
Montserrado County District #6 Representative, Edwin Melvin Snowe and his ex-wife, Mydea White Snowe’s E.M.M. Enterprise, that is yet to repay US$1,897 and Rep. Zoe Emmanuel Pennue of Grand Gedeh County, who has a US$3,887 debt to settle with Ecobank.
Mr. G. Alphonso Gaye of Grand Gedeh owes US$3,887, Rep. Moses Y. Kollie of Lofa County, owes US$1,897 and Deputy Education Minister for Administration, Aagon F. Tingban, owes US$4,225, and has not been able to repay Ecobank according to LBA.
Though Minister Tingban told the Daily Observer in a telephone interview that he does not owe any bank money, the LBA says it has records to support its claim that he (Tingban) borrowed the amount and has not made any attempt to repay according to agreement.
The LBA said the borrowers never made any attempt or negotiate with the banks any reasonable arrangement for repayment and the exercise to publish their names in the newspapers is meant to expose and shame them for their failure or refusal to live up the arrangements agreed upon with the banks before the money was released to them.
Other delinquent borrowers include the Unity Party (UP) Lofa County Branch, Raymond Ziama, William Kamba, Esther Kawala and Hena Dennis; Liberty Party (LP), Milton Quaye, Kiadee Kamara; and Liberia People’s Party (LPP), Dusty Wollokollie and Amos Bartu.
Lebanese businessman Tony Hage owes US$1,897; the Liberia National Lotteries Incorporated owes US$1,897; and former President Moses Z. Blah did not repay the amount of US$1,897 he had borrowed before his death. Citizens Action to Re-elect Ellen, US$1,897; former speaker, J. Alex Tyler’s Continental Fishing Agency, also owes US$1,897. George Saah (from Vice President Boakai’s Office) owes US$4,225, while LPRC Managing Director Sumo G. Kupee, owes US$1,897 to Ecobank.
Well over US$12M
The total number of the borrowers, according to the listings, is 4,651. The LBA’s list of amounts owed to the banks, a series of relatively small amounts per debtor in most cases, amounts to well over US$12.6 million and near L$10 million. These amounts are borne in various portions by Ecobank, LBDI, Afriland First Bank, Access Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank, International Bank and Global Bank.
The money involved begins from US$1 to US$9,999 decided to resume the publication of non-compliant delinquent borrowers starting April 2013, and immediately resumed the exercise on Monday, October 10. They promised to continue the publications through October 28, starting with outstanding loan balances of US$1 to US$9,999 and from LD110.06 to LD49, 000.
Further action pending
The LBA also says the banks may take further action to deny chronic delinquent customers privileges to do business with local banks and by implication it could affect them abroad.
A diplomatic source told the Daily Observer that those who would not rush to clear their debts may suffer further consequences in Europe and the United States, since information about them could be sent to banking institutions there to watch out for them.
Since the publication of the list this week, not many of those involved have made attempts to settle the banks and, with the LBA’s determination to continue publication of the lists throughout this month, it indicates the borrowers deliberate decision not to repay money received from the banks.
“The debtors have all reneged on servicing their financial obligations to commercial banks and will not enjoy the benefits of Liberia’s banking system,” said the LBA in a statement, earlier this week. The LBA says it has the backing of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) to carry out the exercise against those determined to ignore their financial obligations to the banks.
Many readers told the Daily Observer that they were surprised to read that high profile politicians and others are unable to repay money borrowed from commercial banks. “If people like those cannot repay their loans, how much more will the little man be encouraged to repay his debts?”
Others said since those delinquent are not faithful to repay money borrowed, “how can such people, I mean those in government and other politicians expect us to elect them to take state power?” They further said it is a shame that those in political leadership are unable to respect an arrangement with the banks.