August 7, 2013 (Page 26)
THE Fast Track High Court has ordered the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) to pay GHC400,000 being the entitlements for its former Managing Director, Mr Yaw Opoku Atuahene.
It ordered that the amount must include interest since July, 2009 when the plaintiff’s appointment was wrongfully terminated by the bank.
The plaintiff sued the bank through his lawyer, Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame, for wrongful dismissal but the bank filed its response and made counter claims 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 further calculate the end of service benefits of plaintiff and pay same.
In the court’s considered opinion, Mr Atuahene had successfully served the bank as Managing Director and thus deserved to paid to be paid off.
The bank was also ordered to sell to plaintiff his official Mercedes Benz car at 5% of the original purchase price.
The Views of the Court
Citing authorities to buttress the court’s decision, the court found as established the fact that Plaintiff had not been specifically accused of any wrongdoing by the bank before the institution of his court action.
According to the court, nothing in the purported audit report supported the bank’s contention that plaintiff had caused the crimes of causing financial loss or fraud.
The court was of the view that the supposed audit report was prepared by the ADB after Mr Atuahene’s employment as Managing Director had been terminated by the bank.
In any event, the court noted that the only findings made in that audit report were the alleged breach of administrative procedures by some of the bank’s employees.
Violation of fair hearing
Rather, the court submitted that the bank had indeed violated the plaintiff’s right to a fair hearing through the manner in which it had come out with the purported audit findings without according the plaintiff the opportunity to be heard on the adverse findings made against him.
The trial judge further found that the purported audit report clearly smacked of “mischief”, because no adverse findings were made against the plaintiff while he was in office.
The judge 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 plaintiff of his lawful entitlements.
Plaintiff was the Managing Director 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 after the change of government.
The plaintiff had argued that consequent to the termination his employment, various pecuniary obligations owed him by the bank were not discharged.
Plaintiff, after persistent but unheeded demands for the satisfaction of same issued a writ of summons in the Fast Track Division of the High Court on May, 21, 2010.
The financial obligations Plaintiff 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 defendant bank, the payment of the financial value of Plaintiff’s accumulated leave of 240 working day as well as his share of the ADB’s profit for the year 2009.
Mr Atuahene also claimed an order compelling the bank to dispose of his official Mercedes Benz car when he was using at 5% of the purchase price.
Aside denying some of the claims of plaintiff, the bank resisted other claims of plaintiff on the basis that the financial obligations owed plaintiff had been withheld as a result of the withdrawal by plaintiff and other employees of defendant, of various monies belonging to defendant and which plaintiff and those employees were yet to account for.
Counter Claims of ADB denied
In its counter claim, the bank claimed that the plaintiff and other employees of the bank connived with others and caused the withdrawal of or withdrew monies to the tune of US $ 575, 660.00 as well as GHC 101,000.
Those sums of monies, according to the bank remain outstanding and unaccounted for, and were, therefore, due from plaintiff to the bank.
The bank had 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 plaintiff of his monetary entitlements.
Defendant, on account of the matters raised in its defence, counterclaimed that the plaintiff’s acts bordered on “deception”, “fraud” and caused a “huge loss” of US $ 575,660.00 and GH C101,000.00 to the bank.
It also demanded interest on the said amounts from the plaintiff but the bank held a different view and accordingly dismissed the counter claims.