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Ecobank Contempt Case: Bailiff Thrown Out Of Bank’s Premises   
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An Accra Fast Track High Court yesterday adjourned the contempt case against 13 staff of ECOBANK Ghana Limited and ECOBANK Development Corporation Stockbrokerage Limited to October 17, 2011.

The presiding judge, Justice N.M.C Abodakpi, wanted to know if it was true that security men of the bank thwarted the efforts of a bailiff to serve notice of contempt on the staff.

The judge said if it was established during the contempt hearing that the bailiff was thrown out of the bank’s premises, the matter would be dealt with accordingly because “nobody can stop the processes of the court”.

When the case was called, Messrs. Michael Cobblah, Osei Sarfo, Lionel Van Lare Dosoo, A.M. Iddrisu, Kofi Ansah, Ernest Danso Asare and Emmanuel Mpkah, out of the 13 respondents, were present. The others who could not make it to court were Ehouman Kassi, Emmanuel Mkpah, Rosemary Yeboah, Evelyn Talle, Marian Gabala Dao, Francis Apanka, and Samuel Ashietey Adjei.

Nana Asante Bediatuo, counsel for the applicant, Afare Apeadu Donkor, Ghana’s former Ambassador to China, informed the court that since not all the respondents were in court, and the judge had agreed that the rest be served through substituted service, the case could be adjourned to a time when the rest would have been informed about the contempt.

He said he was aware that the respondents had filed an application for stay of execution pending an appeal. Counsel for the applicant informed the court that he was informed that agents of the bank had prevented a bailiff from serving the respondents with a notice of contempt.

The judge said if Nana Bediatuo had any additional information concerning the contempt case, he should file it by way of supplementary affidavit.

Nene Amegatcher, counsel for some of the respondents who were present in court, told the judge that the other respondents could not make it to court because they were out of the country. He said since the bank was an international organisation, some of the respondents were domiciled in other countries.

He therefore prayed the court to adjourn the case to a time when all the respondents would be present.

According to him, the notice of contempt which was allegedly torn when the bailiff attempted to serve the respondents was in his possession. He also proved to the court that the said bank was of international repute and hence would not do anything to show disrespect to the court.

The court has adjourned the case to October 17, 2011.

The bank and its subsidiary, ECOBANK Development Corporation (EDC) Stockbrokerage Limited, together with 13 staff members of the aforementioned organisations, had been cited for contempt at the High Court by former Ghana’s Ambassador to China, Afare Apeadu Donkor (Applicant).

Justice N. M. C. Abodakpi, realising that it was not possible to get all the respondents served, granted the applicant’s request to serve an application for committal for contempt on all the defendant/respondents through substituted service by posting the notice on their premises, among others.

However, a bailiff was reportedly thrown out of the premises of ECOBANK and ECOBANK Development Corporation (EDC) Stockbrokerage Limited by security men when he went there to post the notice, as directed by the High Court.

The defendants/respondents were cited for contempt after they flouted a High Court ruling ordering them to transfer custody and management of Ambassador Afare Donkor’s shares in CAL Bank to Databank Brokerage Limited.

According to the court, Ambassador Donkor holds 18,120,000 shares in CAL Bank Ghana Limited.

Giving his judgment in the substantive case, the trial judge, Justice Edward Amoako Asante J., said, “I therefore declare the bank’s continued hold over the plaintiff’s (Ambassador Afare Donkor’s) shares unlawful.”

The judge also agreed with the applicant’s claim, saying, “In my view, the documents tendered by the plaintiff lends credence to his assertion that the bank fraudulently doctored Mr. Oppong Bio’s account to deceive the court that account was not closed and that it was still being operated in December 2008. I am satisfied that the plaintiff has successfully established his contention that the bank fraudulently doctored Mr. Oppong Bio’s loan account.”

The plaintiff had alleged fraud on the part of the bank and in examining the case, the judge said the plaintiff had, in May 2008, instructed the 2nd defendant (ECOBANK Ghana Limited) to use his shares as collateral to secure a loan facility which the bank was granting to one Mr. Oppong Bio, a businessman in Accra.

According to the judge, the loan to Mr. Oppong Bio was to be used to purchase shares held by one Mr. Daniel Ofori in CAL Bank Ghana Limited.

However, the sale of the shares by Mr. Daniel Ofori to Mr. Oppong Bio was suspended by directives from the Bank of Ghana and Ghana Stock Exchange dated May 30, 2008. As a result of this, the plaintiff demanded that since the transaction did not go through, his shares should be released to him.

However, the plaintiff realised that the bank had credited Mr. Bio’s loan account with the loan amount which had been cancelled and the account closed. It was further revealed that “the loan was reversed; the account closed and the loan facility fee refunded on the 30th of May, 2008.”

The judge said it was therefore strange that “the bank sought to release a fresh account for Mr. Oppong Bio to give an indication that the loan account was not cancelled and that it was in operation as at December 2008, when in fact it was not.”
Source: Fidelia Achama

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