General News of 2013-12-11

Contempt charge looms on Merchant Bank buyers, Fortiz

Lawyers for Mr. Andrew Awuni who is challenging the sale of Merchant Bank to private equity firm, Fortiz, are likely to bring contempt charges against Fortiz, the lead lawyer has said.

This follows the appointment of six persons to the board of Merchant Bank by the new owners Fortiz, Wednesday, despite the case pending before the High Court seeking to stop the sale.

The equity firm announced six persons, including, Issa Anafure, Dr Alhassan Iddrisu, Afotey Odarteifio and Ernest Asare have been appointed to the Board of Merchant Bank sparking a new controversy in an apparently controversial financial transaction.

Egbert Faibille lead lawyer for the Executive Director of the Centre for Freedom and Accuracy, Mr. Awuni, told Joy News' Evans Mensah on Top Story the action of the equity firm if proved, amounted to disrespecting the legal processes currently going on at the court.

He said the lawyers will be left with no option than to bring contempt charges against Fortiz.

According to him, on December 9, 2013, they filed a writ of summons against Fortiz and 12 other defendants who have played a role in the sale of the Merchant Bank.

Among the reliefs they are seeking from the court is an order of perpetual injunction on the defendants restraining them from taking any step in taking over the management and control of Merchant Bank or appointing any persons to the bank.

Reciting the cardinal principles of the law of contempt, Egbert Faibille explained parties in a case must not take or be seen to be taking decisions that will inure to their interest and usurp the power and the authority of the court.

By appointing members to the Board of Merchant Bank, Faibille is convinced Fortiz has arrogated the power of the Commercial Court to itself.

He, therefore, hinted that Fortiz may be cited for contempt. Another private legal practitioner Maurice Ampau agreed with the views expressed by Mr. Faibille.

He told Evans Mensah once a matter is in court for final determination, "you don't do anything to undermine the authority of the court."

It smacks of total disrespect to the court, he averred.