Ecobank Nigeria rocked by multi-million dollar law suit

EcobankCrescent Africa (Ghana) Limited, has issued a writ against Ecobank (Nigeria) Plc at the Accra High Court, Fast Track Division, over fraud, forgeries, deceit and fraudulent misrepresentations.

Mr Philip Addison (Esquire) of Addison & Associates representing the Plaintiff issued the writ, which contained a 56 -paragraph statement of claim, setting out the particulars of fraud and forgeries in the documents tendered by the bank at the trial after thorough scientific investigations by expert document examiners.

The Plaintiff is a limited liability company registered under the laws of Ghana and is engaged in the business of operating and chartering vessels to transport petroleum products between ports on the West Coast of Africa.

The Defendant is a corporate entity purportedly registered under the laws of Nigeria and is engaged in operating banking with its head office located at Victoria Island, Lagos in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

On December 21, 2006 Bronwen Energy Trading Limited of Copthall Commonwealth of Dominica commenced action in the Commercial Court, Accra against the Plaintiff and its vessel MT ANNA as Defendants claiming inter alia specific performance by the Defendants of the Contract of Afreightment dated November 6, 2006.

At all material times, Bronwen Energy in conspiracy to defraud to put itself out as the Shipper and Co-owner of the cargo to be loaded on MT ANNA and whereas Ecobank Nigeria was the Consignee and actual owner of the cargo laden and unlawfully retained aboard Plaintiff’s vessel MT ANNA.

The suit came as a surprise to Plaintiff, who had strictly been dealing with Nijacare Nigeria Limited all along in respect of the cargo.
There was ample evidence before the court that at all material times, that Bronwen Energy had instituted the proceedings in the suit in a representative capacity for the entire benefit of Ecobank Nigeria.

There was compelling evidence of serial breaches of the underlying contract of carriage and misuse and abuse of the vessel as floating storage for the Nigerians to the detriment of the vessel’s assigned task in Ghana.

The Plaintiff counter claimed in the suit and Ecobank Nigeria was joined to the action as Defendant to the counter claim on April 24, 2008 by Order of Justice of Appeal Marful-Sau.

On April 4, 2014 the High Court presided over by J.A Torkonoo, since December 2006, sitting as additional High Court Judge gave judgement in the suit.

It wholly and astonishingly exonerating Ecobank, Nigeria the sole Consignee and Cargo Owner from liability whatsoever, finding Bronwen Energy a company in liquidation since 2010, and who had not participated in the proceedings since 2008, rather liable to the Plaintiff on a number of the reliefs sought by the Plaintiff in that suit.

All attempts by the Plaintiff to enforce the orders of the Torkornoo Court From 2007, till date against Bronwen Energy

It has come to the notice of the Plaintiff in its endeavour to enforce the judgement of April 4, 2014 that on May 28, 2010, a winding up petition was presented against the original Plaintiff, Bronwen Energy Trading Limited under the laws of the Dominica and an order for winding up was heard and granted on October 22, 2010.

Plaintiff avers that all materials times that the suit was pending, Ecobank knew or ought to have known of the pendency of a winding up petition against Bronwen Energy its Co-Defendant, Agent and Customer.

The bank also had knowledge of the eventual order for the winding up on October 22, 2010, but failed to disclose these matters or bring them to the notice of the Court.

By a series of fraud, forgeries and deceit and fraudulent misrepresentations made to the Court, Ecobank Nigeria was able to mislead the Court and procure a judgement wholly in its favour on April 2, 2014.

Plaintiff states that on November 3, 2006, as carrier/owner and Nijacare Nigeria Limited acting on behalf of Ecobank Defendant had entered into a Maritime Contract of Carriage known as Spot Voyage Charter Party Incorporating Asbantankvoy provisions to charter the Plaintiffs vessel MT ANNA for a spot voyage 6.5 days to load a parcel of Premium Motor Spirit owned by Defendant by Ship-to-Ship transfer EX MT Ocean Success offshore Lagos for delivery into a safe port /berth at Ibafon, Lagos in the period between  November 7- 13, 2006.

Other items include demurrage, liquidated damages for delays beyond the November 13, 2006 at a daily delivery rate of $7,000 until the date of re-delivery of vessel of vessel MT ANNA to Plaintiff’s Crescent. The case continues.

Source: GNA

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