By Edmund Mingle
The regulatory dispute between gold dealership firm, Menzgold Ghana Company Limited, on one side, and the Bank of Ghana (BoG) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on the other, has reached its highest point towards a full blown legal tussle.
It begun over a year ago with regulatory issues between Menzgold and BoG over Banking and Specialised Deposit-Taking regulations, then SEC joined the impasse recently, directing Menzgold to suspend operations and abide by the Securities and Exchange regulations.
It has already been a long tussle, characterised by accusations and counter accusations between Menzgold and SEC/BoG, and amidst varied public opinion and judgement on the matter.
The SEC directive has led to ongoing panic withdrawals of “investments” by customers who want to ensure the safety of their “deposits.”
In the latest twist, Menzgold last week filed a suit at an Accra High Court challenging SEC and BoG over their capacity to regulate the company’s operations.
Already, the parties, especially Menzgold, are grappling with the cost of the impasse.
Experts indicate that the panic withdrawals and the suspension of operations, could lead to the collapse of Menzgold, while it will take a long time for BoG and SEC to recover from the public mistrust and negative perception they have suffered as a result of the dispute.
A legal tussle can only worsen the situation for the parties.
Mediation, undoubtedly, has become the best dispute resolution tool in the financial sector due to its high benefits in protecting investment interests and ensuring win-win situation for all parties.
Mediation, an Appropriate Dispute Resolution (ADR) Mechanism, has been used to resolve more complex disputes than the case of Menzgold, in the financial sector in many countries, including Ghana.
Menzgold and BoG/SEC could have avoided the impasse and the attendant cost if they had employed mediation, but the opportunity remains for the parties to opt for mediation.
Clearly the parties have entrenched positions and interests, which the Court hearing the case, would either affirm or reject, meaning that it will be a win or lose outcome for the parties.
But with mediation, Menzgold and BoG/SEC would be assisted to drop their arsenals and have a non-adversarial conversation to understand each side’s position and interests for them to formulate an amicable solution for the benefit of all stakeholders.
Compared to court litigation, mediation remains inexpensive, confidential, protects relationships and offers speedy resolution and both-gain outcomes.
Opting for mediation does not mean a party has a weak case, so Menzgold or SEC and BoG can call for mediation, which the courts are ready to grant.
It is not too late to avoid a legal showdown.
Mediation offers the opportunity for Menzgold, BoG and SEC to amicably settle the dispute without compromising on regulations and jeopardizing the interests of investors and customers.