General News of 2013-12-05

Awuni lacks locus to sue against Merchant Bank sale - Fortiz tells court

Private equity Fund, Fortiz today defended its acquisition of Merchant Bank at the High Court, Commercial Division, over a suit brought against it and 12 others.

The Centre for Freedom and Accuracy this week filed a suit in court seeking an injunction against the controversial sale of the state-owned bank.

The Centre cited Merchant Bank, Social Security and National Insurance Trust, Bank of Ghana, Fortiz and KPMG as the first, second, third, fourth and fifth defendants respectively. It also included some board members of Merchant Bank in the suit.

The plaintiff is seeking a perpetual injunction on the sale of SSNIT's 90.6% stake in Merchant Bank to Fortiz Equity Fund .

But Counsel for Fortiz, Tony Lithur, Thursday asked the court to strike out the case, arguing that the Executive Director of the Centre, Mr Andrew Awuni who filed the suit lacks locus to bring the case before the court.

The case has been adjourned to Tuesday, December 10, 2013.

Meanwhile, lawyers for Centre for Freedom and Accuracy have condemned claims by Fortiz that it has completed the acquisition of Merchant Bank, describing the announcement as “error, prejudicial and contempt of the court of Ghana”.

Fortiz announced in a press statement yesterday that it had finally met all requirements by the Bank of Ghana and was in the process of taking over Merchant Bank.

But one of the counsel for the anti-graft centre, Kofi Bentil has called on the general public to disregard the claim, warning the controversial transaction is far from over.

Mr Kofi Bentil told Joy Business that since the case is before court, all transactions are suspended.

“The purchase of Merchant Bank by Fortiz is incomplete. Any statement issued to the contrary must be disregarded. The statement is in error, the authors must appreciate that a sale of this nature is not complete and until the shares have been transferred into the buyer’s name and a share certificate has been issued and the name of the new owner has been entered into the register of members.”

He added that the statement was in “bad taste and seeks to confuse the public”.

The Centre first filed the suit last week against the sale of the state bank at the Fast Track High Court and prayed for an injunction against the deal. But the Executive Director of the Centre, Andrew Awuni this week directed his lawyers to discontinue the case and re-file same at the High Court Commercial Division, expanding the list of respondents from three to 13.