Business News of 2014-07-21

HFC to settle case with businessman out of court

The HFC Bank has decided to settle out-of-court an action brought against it by a Tema-based businessman who is claiming general damages for unlawful arrest, false imprisonment and defamation of character.

The applicant, Mr Sebastian Arko Smith, is praying the Accra Fast Track High Court for GH¢300,000 in general damages. The decision was announced by the lawyer for the applicant, Mr Francis-Xavier Sosu, when the case was called for hearing last Friday.

Mr Sosu told the court that his client had received the overture in good faith, but added that the applicant would revert to the court to inform it of the outcome of negotiations.

Counsel for the HFC Bank, Ms Ekua Hanson, confirmed the decision to the court, following which the court, presided over by Mr Justice K.A. Ofori Atta, adjourned the case to October 24, 2014 for the two parties to report developments to it. On April 5, 2014, the Daily Graphic carried a story in which Mr Smith had sued the HFC Bank for unlawful arrest, false imprisonment and defamation of character by officers of the bank.

A statement of claim accompanying Mr Smith’s writ said some time in November 2013, he went to the Makola branch of the HFC Bank to withdraw money, after he had been given a counter cheque by the customer service person. According to the statement, barely a week after the transaction, he received a call from the bank that its CCTv camera had detected him stealing a phone from the desk of the customer service person who had served him.

It said on receipt of the said call, Mr Smith abandoned his business and rushed to the bank with a friend to clear the issue, since the allegation was an indictment on his personality and integrity as a noble businessman.

It said on his arrival, he demanded to see what the officers of the bank claimed they had seen on the camera and, to his utmost surprise, one of the officers told him, in the presence of other customers and the friend who had accompanied him, that the way he talked showed that he was the one who had stolen the phone.

The statement said after that humiliation and disgrace in front of those customers, another officer from the business desk in the banking hall came out and asked him to follow him to an empty room, where he was detained for more than an hour.

After one hour, he was called to the camera room to have a look at what had happened earlier and, to his surprise, the camera detected that he had only picked a pen with which he wrote on the cheque and not a mobile phone. According to the statement, the ordeal he suffered at the hands of the officers of the bank embarrassed and humiliated him in front of all those who witnessed the event.

It also said the acts, false accusations and treatment meted out to him by officers of the bank were defamatory and slanderous and affected his reputation as a businessman.