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Businessman Sues UMB
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Veteran investigative journalist Pankaj Pyne, now a businessman, is suing Universal Merchant Bank (UMB) for allegedly posting his company’s name on a credit reference bureau that helps the banking sector to identify blacklisted companies.

The businessman claimed that UMB allegedly placed his company Sudhir Cash & Carry Limited among blacklisted companies on XDS Data Ghana and as a result, he says his company has not been able to have access to credit facilities in other banks, a claim the bank has filed a defence to contest.

Therefore, Sudhir Cash & Carry Limited is seeking a declaration that “the plaintiff does not owe the defendant the sums posted with XDS Data, Ghana and it was unlawful for the defendant to have posted the said information to the effect that the plaintiff was indebted to it.”

The plaintiff wants a further declaration that “the inability of the plaintiff to access credit from various banks to run its business was as a result of the postage of the said unlawful information by the defendant with XDS Data, Ghana.”

Additionally seeking special damages “in the sum equal to all profits the plaintiff had lost from February 2007 to date of the final payment,” as well as “interest of all sums found due to the plaintiff from the defendant from February 2007 to date of the final payment,” and order directing the defendant to publish “a retraction of the information posted with XDS Data, Ghana in the same manner and prominence.”

In the statement of claim, the plaintiff averred that his company was a distributor of products for Unilever Ghana Limited and Nestle Ghana Limited and other companies and the UMB was the successor of Merchant Bank which it initially had business dealings with and had a monthly turnover GH¢300,000 before the company was denied access to credit by the banks.

According to the Plaintiff, it opened two accounts with then Merchant Bank pursuant to a proposal the bank made to Unilever Key Distributors through Unilever Ghana Limited based on interest rate of 21.5% on facilities, commission on turnover exempt as well as cash build-up as collateral.

The plaintiff claimed that contrary to the said proposal which made him to open the accounts, the bank allegedly charged interest at the rate of 36% per annum on the said account.

According to the plaintiff, the bank granted his company an overdraft facility of GH¢100,000 (¢1 billion) and said it fulfilled all the requirements but claimed “contrary to the terms of the said facility, the defendant returned cheques it issued to Unilever Ghana Limited when the ceiling of the facility had not been exceeded and a 10% penal charge was imposed for each returned cheque.”

The plaintiff averred that upon complaints to the bank about the returned cheques, it paid Unilever Ghana Limited directly the value of the cheques but said it refused to reverse the said 10% penal charges, adding that as the penal charges accumulated “the defendant debited the said accounts with unlawful penal charges and interest contrary to the terms upon which the said accounts were opened.”

According to the plaintiff, the Merchant Bank instituted a court action against his company and was claiming GH¢77,192.55 as the plaintiff’s indebtedness but when he filed a defence and a counterclaim, the bank allegedly abandoned the suit and when he later pursued his counterclaim, the bank allegedly said it was taking steps to settle the matter amicably.

He said after being denied access to credit by about nine banks he decided to investigate the root cause only to discover that the bank had posted on Xdsdata, Ghana to the effect that his company owed the defendant bank GH¢204,683.00 as at February 21, 2007 which was updated on July 2, 2014.

UMB Response

The defendant bank has denied majority of the plaintiff’s claims in its response which has already been filed.

It said for instance that “plaintiff’s optimum overdraft limit was GH¢100,000 yet plaintiff constantly exceeded the limit without defendant’s prior approval,” adding that “defendant has cause to warn the plaintiff to make adequate preparation to fund its account to meet cheques drawn on its account at all times.”

It said among other things that the plaintiff’s inability to secure credit facilities from financial institutions has nothing to do with the bank and added that the plaintiff’s issue is “statute barred.”

The plaintiff hit back with a reply stating specifically that the information posted by banks with XDS Data Ghana is for the consumption of banks and other financial institutions solely and no other person is allowed access to such information.
Source: Daily Guide

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