Court Dismisses Awuni’s Suit

Mr. AwuniThe Accra Commercial Court yesterday  dismissed the suit filed by Mr. Andrew Awuni challenging the sale of Merchant Bank to Fortiz.

It stated that as a sole contributor to the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), Mr. Awuni was not permitted by the Pension Act 766 and Article 296 of the Constitution, to challenge investments made by the Trust.

The court, presided over by Sophia Bernasko Essah further explained that Mr. Awuni was restricted by the law to seek redress only on matters pertaining  to his SSNIT benefits, and not managerial issues.

But the legal team of Awuni indicated it would appeal against the dismissal of the suit.                                  .

The ruling followed a month litigation on the sale which lawyers of Awuni had described as fraudulent and showed no value for money.

In her ruling, the judge stated categorically that lawyers of Mr. Awuni  failed in their presentation to prove to the court that the sale negatively affected his SSNIT benefits for which he could make a case.

She also emphasised that Mr. Awuni was not a party to the sale, neither was he a trustee, a board member, nor a government officer with oversight responsibility, to endorse the sale.

According to her, members of the SSNIT board or the Merchant Bank Board, Trustees, the buyer, the Attorney-General, the Ministry of Finance and Parliament were eligible to challenge the sale but not a sole contributor.

The lead counsel for Mr. Awuni, Egbert Faibile in an interview, described the presiding judge’s decision as “interesting” but “worrying”.

According to him, they were “not satisfied with the ruling, and this is just the beginning of the battle and I think that we will go on appeal,” “to test the law” because the basis on which the suit was dismissed “was injustice” and that it was “not a done deal.”

Mr. Lithur, a fortnight ago filed the application asking the court to dismiss the writ brought before it by Mr. Awuni to reverse the sale of Merchant Bank.

His application stated that Mr. Awuni, the  Executive Director of the Centre for Freedom and Accuracy (CFA), did not have the capacity to challenge the sale in court, though he is a contributor to SSNIT.

Mr. Lithur’s application was sequel to the suit filed by Mr. Awuni against 13 institutions and persons at the same court, for the sale of the Bank.

Mr. Awuni, on November 15, filed a writ at the Accra Fast Track High Court to revert the deal which he described on several platforms as fraudulent and did not show value for money.

He, again, filed an interlocutory injunction on November 22, to halt further transactions on the sale, pending the determination of the court but decided to discontinue the matter and rather pursue it in the Commercial Court.

He, then, filed a fresh suit at the Commercial Court against the 13 institutions and persons at the centre of the sale.

The defendants in the new writ were the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), Fortiz, the Bank of Ghana (BoG), KPMG, all the board members of Merchant Bank at the initial stage of the sale, and three other persons.

Mr. Awuni prayed the commercial court to restrain the parties from consummating further transactions.

But the Bank of Ghana approved the deal for Fortiz Private Equities Fund Ghana Limited, to pay GH¢90 million for a 90 per cent stake in Merchant Bank.

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