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Heritage Bank gets PECB certification despite licence revocation

Heritage Bank gets PECB certification despite licence revocationWorld-renowned Canada-based certification body, PECB, located in Montréal, has issued a management system certificate to Heritage Bank Limited (HBL) of Ghana, despite the revocation of its licence recently by the Bank of Ghana.

PECB, which is a respected certification body for persons, management systems, and products on a wide range of international standards, said in its correspondence to the erstwhile management of Heritage Bank that: “It is with great pleasure that we congratulate your company on attaining the PECB Management System Certificate signifying that your organisation has been assessed and found to be in accordance with the management system requirements in ISO/IEC 27001:2013”.

“The scope of HBL Information Security Management System (ISMS) includes all employees, business and support activities carried in HBL’s Head Office and Datacenter Facility based at Plot No 6, Airport City, NCA Tower, First Floor and Part of the Ground Floor, Accra, Ghana, in accordance with Statement of Applicability (SoA), Ver. 1 “

“Your certificate number is: C578-ISMS173-01-19, and is valid until 2022-01-16”, the correspondence signed by CEO Eric Lachapelle; and President & COO Faton Aliu, said.

PECB noted that: “In order to maintain the certificate, your organisation will be subjected to two surveillance audits. The first surveillance audit will take place no longer than 12 months from the initial certification audit. Additionally, the second surveillance audit will take place in no longer than 12 months from the first surveillance audit”.

The BoG revoked HBL’s licence on Friday, 4 January 2019 on the basis that the majority shareholder, Mr Seidu Agongo, among other things, used proceeds realised from alleged fraudulent contracts he executed for the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), for which he and former COCOBOD CEO, Dr Stephen Opuni are being tried, to set up the bank.

Announcing the withdrawal of the licence, the Governor of the central bank, Dr Ernest Addison told journalists – when asked if he did not deem the action as premature, since the COCOBOD case was still in court – that: “The issue of Heritage Bank, I wanted to get into the law with you, I don’t know if I should, but we don’t need the court’s decision to take the decisions that we have taken. We have to be sure of the sources of capital to license a bank; if we have any doubt, if we feel that it’s suspicious, just on the basis of that we find that that is not acceptable as capital. We don’t need the court to decide for us whether anybody is ‘fit and proper’, just being involved in a case that involves a criminal procedure makes you not fit and proper”.

However, Mr Agongo responded with a press statement in which he said that the “not fit and proper” tag stamped on him by the central bank was “capricious, arrogant, malicious and in bad faith”.

According to Mr Agongo, “In purportedly making the determination, the central bank obviously had little regard for the time-honoured principle that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction”, adding that: “The fact that I have a case pending before the High Court is a matter of public knowledge but my guilt or innocence is yet to be determined by the Honourable Court”.

“The determination that I am not a fit and proper person to be a significant shareholder of HBL because the central bank suspects the funds are derived from illicit or suspicious contracts with Cocobod is not only calculated to pre-judge the outcome of the criminal proceedings but also violative of the principle of presumption of innocence to which every individual is entitled. Since when has suspicion become a substitute for credible evidence?” Mr Agongo asked.

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