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Beware Of Modern-Day Pyrams!   
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The Akan word ‘susu’ has two literal meanings – ‘measure’ and ‘think’. Its usage in relation to the latter is what interests me in today’s piece. Using the word in relation to savings signifies a person’s ability to think of saving for a rainy day.

Saving is very good because it affords a person the opportunity to attend to his future needs without resorting to begging. This enables such a person to move away from the dependency syndrome, thereby making him financially independent.

As a growing child in the Zongo, my Grandma gave me a box where I kept my unused coins for future use. The money usually came in handy to help me attend to one need or the other. I also saw the one man ‘susu’ collector system.

Brings to mind a popular susu collector called ‘Wait and See’. Of course, there were other susu collectors competing with him, but his integrity won him many clients. We were thus shocked when we woke up one morning to be greeted by the news that ‘Wait and See’ had been attacked by hoodlums the previous night. He did survive the attack but could not regain full sanity till today.

Maybe it was the work of his other competitors. Maybe it was a genuine attack by criminals. But one thing was clear: Many people lost their hard earned savings as a result of the attack. This and other related incidents across the country made my compatriots shift their trust from the one man susu collector to the banks.

As their trust in the banks started growing, a new firm surfaced in the latter parts of 1994 and caused a financial tsunami in the country. It paid a whopping 40% monthly interest on deposits. It sounded like an Ananse story, but we all watched in dismay as depositors continued to receive their 40% monthly interests from PYRAM FINANCIAL SERVICES LTD.

In line with the saying ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’, many people, Yours truly inclusive, sent their deposits to PYRAM to enjoy the miraculous 40% interest. Alas, our dreams turned into a nightmare.

The country woke up on August 5, 1995 to the shocking news that PYRAM had fizzled into thin air. It was a day of pure anguish and pain as both the young and the old wept like babies. I had then completed my Sixth-Form National Service and lost my one year savings to the scam. I was devastated.

But mine was child’s play in comparison to those who had lost their life savings to the scam. We heard numerous stories of how many victims had become paralyzed, committed suicide or died out of shock as a result of the scam. Indeed, many families have since not recovered from the effects of the PYRAM debacle.

Fast forward to DKM and GOD IS LOVE era, we all blamed the Bank of Ghana (BOG) for sleeping on the job and allowing another PYRAM to happen. We tongue-lashed them for allowing the investments of our compatriots to go down the drain. We also did not spare the Ogwanfunu government for the debacle.

It is therefore refreshing that the BOG and subsequently the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) have woken from their slumber and are now alive to their responsibilities. A clampdown on erring banks and those involved in unauthorized gold dealership is definitely the way to go.

As for the noisemakers and those standing with the embattled firms, it is their right to do so. They can continue to play the ostrich and engage in sycophancy. But BOG and SEC cannot afford to play the ostrich or be sycophantic. The law must be applied without fear or favour.

Those not ready to heed to wise counsel can invest in whichever firm they so please. And let them blame no one for their foolhardiness when they lose their hard earned cowries to the modern-day PYRAMS. For as the saying goes, “The fly that refuses to heed to good counsel follows the corpse into the grave.”

See you next week for another interesting konkonsa, Deo volente!

Source: Daily Guide

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