AN Accra High Court has dismissed a contempt case against Felix Nyarko-Pong, managing director of UniBank, Ghana Limited, filed by the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC).
The FIC went to court to press a contempt charge against UniBank for allowing God is Love Fund Club to make deposits and withdrawals in its frozen account.
UniBank, acting upon an order by a Kumasi High Court on May 13, 2015, allowed God is Love Fun Club access to its accounts following which, FIC filed a suit praying the Accra high court to commit UniBank to contempt.
But UniBank filed an affidavit in opposition asking the court to dismiss FIC’s application on the grounds that it lacked merit.
On August 21, a heated legal argument ensued between legal representations of UniBank and FIC, after which the court set August 27 to rule on the application.
Arguing for and against the motion, the counsel for the applicant and respondents held varying positions.
Mr. Chris Archer and Sylvia Archer, representing UniBank, argued that the respondent’s action to defreeze the account of God is Love Fun Club was in adherence to the Kumasi high court, therefore, the charge of contempt could not fly.
Mr. Archer noted that the Kumasi High Court’s order meant the freezing directive had been vacated and, therefore, the order of the Accra High Court, dated May 14, 2015, could not have been legally confirmed.
The judge then pointed out to Mr. Archer that, the order could not have expired because the Anti-Money Laundering Act permits FIC to freeze funds for 12 months.
Taking his turn, Mr. C.A Chambers maintained that God Is Love Fun Club’s flouted the Banking Act, Act 207 of 2003, as well as Non-Bank Financial Institutions Act, Act 774 of 2008.
He said for UniBank to allow God is Love Fun Club to transfer various sums of money notwithstanding the confirming order of the Accra High Court amounted to “flagrant disobedience of the court”.
Dismissing the application, the presiding judge, Mrs. Georgina Mensah-Datsa, held that FIC had failed to establish any willful conduct on the part of UniBank to warrant the charge.
She said it was absurd to expect UniBank to comply with conflicting orders of two high courts in Accra and Kumasi at the same time, adding that the development could bring the administration of justice into ridicule.
She indicated that as at May, 14 2015, when she gave the confirming order, the directive from the FIC had been vacated by the Kumasi High Court.
Justice Mensah-Datsa averred that the plaintiff also failed to adduce evidence to the effect that UniBank flouted the orders of the Accra High Court which confirmed an order for FIC to freeze the accounts of God is Love Fun Club.
On May 13, 2015, God is Love Fun Club secured an order at the Kumasi High Court, restraining UniBank to not deny them (God is Love) access to all their accounts.
A day after the Kumasi High Court gave the order, the FIC came before the Accra High Court and obtained a confirmation order which directed UniBank to freeze the accounts of God is Love.
FIC, again on July 28, 2015, filed another application at the high court in Kumasi to stay execution but it was dismissed.
Meanwhile, the Chief Justice has ordered the transfer of the case from Kumasi to Accra.
By Malik Sullemana