Gov’t To Cough Another ¢4 Billion Judgement Debt

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For Ex-ADB Boss Despite His Problematic Tenure

As the Judgement Debt Commission struggles to unravel the circumstances leading to the payments of various court-imposed debts, it appears the work of the commission is far from over, as government and its institutions are still being slapped with more fines by the law courts.

The latest fine imposed on government is by an Accra-based Fast Track High Court, which has ordered that the state-owned Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) pay a whooping ¢4 billion (GH¢400,000) to its former Managing Director (MD), Yaw Opoku Atuahene as his entitlement.
The bank was also ordered to sell to Mr. Atuahene, his official Mercedes Benz car at five per cent of the original purchase price.

The court led by Justice P. S. Ofei, slapped the bank with the judgement debt, despite a counter claim by ADB officials that, Mr. Atuahene and other employees of the bank connived with others and caused the withdrawal of or withdrew money to the tune of $575, 660, as well as GH¢101,000, and are yet to account for it.

The amount, the court ordered, must include interest since July 2009, when Mr. Atuahene’s appointment was wrongfully terminated by the bank.

Mr. Atuahene sued the bank through his lawyer, Godfred Yeboah Dame, for wrongful dismissal, but the bank filed its response and made counter claim of fraud against him.

However, the court, presided over by Mr. Justice P. S. Ofei, after a full trial, entered judgement in favour of Mr. Atuahene and further directed the bank to calculate Mr. Atuahene’s end-of-service benefits and pay same. In the court’s considered opinion, Mr. Atuahene had successfully served the bank as MD and, therefore, deserved to be paid off.

Citing authorities to buttress its decision, the court found, as established, the fact that Mr. Atuahene had not been specifically accused of any wrongdoing by the bank before the institution of the court action.

According to the court, nothing in the purported audit report supported the bank’s contention that Mr. Atuahene had committed the crime of causing financial loss or fraud.

It was of the view that the supposed audit report was prepared by the ADB after Mr. Atuahene’s employment as MD had been terminated.

In any event, the court noted that the only finding made in that audit report was the alleged breach of administrative procedures by some of the bank’s employees.

Rather, it submitted that the bank had, indeed, violated Mr. Atuahene’s right to a fair hearing through the manner in which it had come out with the purported audit findings without according Mr. Atuahene, the opportunity to be heard on the adverse findings made against him.

It further found out that the purported audit report clearly smacked of “mischief” because no adverse findings were made against Mr. Atuahene while he was in office.

It stated that taking into account the fact that the purported audit report was prepared after a change of government and a new board had been put in place consequent on the change, the audit report was clearly an “afterthought” and a “ploy” to deny the ex-MD his lawful entitlements.

Mr. Atuahene was the MD of the bank until July 23, 2009 when his employment was terminated with effect from July 31, 2009, with the constitution of a new board.

He had argued that consequent to the termination of his employment, various pecuniary obligations owed him by the bank were not discharged.

He, after persistent but unheeded demands for the satisfaction of same, issued a writ of summons at the Fast Track Division of the High Court on May 21, 2010.

The financial obligations Mr. Atuahene sued for included the determination of his end-of-service benefits, payment of his three months’ salary in lieu of notice, his share of the Provident Fund which consisted of his personal contributions, as well as a portion contributed by the bank, the payment of the financial value of Mr. Atuahene’s accumulated leave of 240 working days, as well as his share of the ADB’s profit for the year 2009.

Aside from denying some of ex-MD’s claims, the bank resisted other claims on the basis that the financial obligations owed him had been withheld
as a result of the withdrawal by Mr. Atuahene and other employees of defendant of various sums of money belonging to ADB and which Mr. Atuahene and those employees were yet to account for.

In a counter claim, the bank said the former MD and other employees of the bank connived with others and caused the withdrawal of or withdrew money to the tune of $575, 660, as well as GH¢101,000.

Those sums of money, according to the bank, remained outstanding and unaccounted for and were, therefore, due from Mr. Atuahene to the bank.

It also argued that these matters were duly investigated by the Internal Audit Department of the ADB, pursuant to which the Board of the bank decided to withhold the payment to Mr. Atuahene’s his monetary entitlements.

The case was handled for the bank by its lawyers. The Herald is meanwhile delving into the troubled tenure of Mr. Atuahene, including seeking a copy of the said damning audit report from the Internal Audit Department of the ADB.

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