A high court in Accra, presided over by Madam Georgina Mensah Datsa, has fixed Thursday, August 27, 2015 to rule on a contempt case filed against the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of UniBank Ghana Limited, Mr Felix Nyarko-Pong, by the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC).
FIC’s case is that Mr Nyarko-Pong disobeyed the order of the high court in Accra which confirmed the freezing of all accounts of God Is Love Fun Club and allowed the owners to make withdrawals.
FIC froze the accounts of God Is Love Fun Club on grounds that it was illegally collecting deposits from unsuspecting members of the public even though it has not been licensed by the Bank of Ghana (BoG) to do so.
When the case was called last Friday, the lawyer for FIC explained that on May 14, 2015, the same high court, presided over by Madam Mensah Datsa, confirmed the freezing of the account of God Is Love Fun Club to enable FIC conduct further investigations into its operations.
He stated that the freezing became necessary because FIC was collecting deposits from unsuspecting members of the public, promising them outrageous bank interest rates, even though it is not licensed by the Bank of Ghana (BoG), the regulator, to do so.
He said the action of God Is Love Fun Club flouts the banking act, Act 207 of 2003, as well as Non-Bank Financial Institutions Act, Act 774 of 2008.
The FIC lawyer noted that the order confirming the freezing of the accounts of God Is Love Fun Club was duly served on uniBank.
He added that on May 19, 2015, God Is Love Fun Club applied to the high court in Accra for an order to defreeze the accounts, but the court refused the application in a ruling dated June 5, 2015.
He explained that despite the freeze, uniBank allowed God Is Love Fun Club to withdraw various sums of money from its accounts, saying the behaviour of uniBank amounts to contempt.
“The conduct of uniBank amounts to deliberate act of disrespect to the authority of the court,” he said.
However, the lawyer for uniBank rejected the contempt charge, saying the action of the bank was not wilful.
He explained that on May 8, 2015, FIC directed uniBank to freeze the accounts of God Is Love Fun Club; the directive was confirmed by the court on May 14, 2015.
However, he said on May 13, 2015, a Kumasi High Court granted God Is Love Fun Club an order restraining uniBank from interfering with accounts of the club.
According to him, the order from the high court in Kumasi means the freezing directive has been vacated and, therefore, the order of the high court in Accra, which is dated May 14, 2015, could not have been legally confirmed.
All the same, he said the bank went ahead and froze the accounts of God Is Love Fun Club.
As a result, there is a contempt application pending against uniBank at the high court in Kumasi.
He noted that uniBank finds itself in a tricky situation because even though there is only one high court, one high court order from Kumasi is retraining uniBank from interfering with the accounts of God Is Love Fun Club while another high court in Accra has also ordered the bank to freeze the accounts of the same company.
The uniBank lawyer stated that FIC, mindful of the effects of the order of the high court in Kumasi, applied for stay of execution but the application was dismissed.
According to him, on July 13, 2015, God Is Love Fun Club and Ms Monica Afriyie, who are the complainants in the Kumasi case, applied by motion on notice on FIC for an interlocutory injunction to restrain uniBank from denying God Is Love Fun Club access to all its accounts.
He argued that by virtue of the fact that the first order by God Is Love Fun Club was obtained by ex parte on May 13, 2015, FIC was put on notice by that application.
It was the position of uniBank’s lawyer that the order of the high court in Accra was vacated after 10 days since that is what is stipulated in the procedures of the high court.
At this point, the presiding judge, Madam Georgina Mensah Datsa, pointed out to the lawyer of uniBank that the order could not have expired because the Anti-Money Laundering Act permits FIC to freeze funds for 12 months.
She explained that in money laundering, the onus lies on the accused to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the money was legally acquired.
She pointed out that within the 12-month period, the suspect can return to the court to prove that the money was legally acquired.
God Is Love Fun Club has its headquarters at Breman in Kumasi with branches in Nkoranza, Kintampo, Techiman, Berekum and Sunyani.
Source: The Finder
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