MONROVIA-Lawyers representing GTBank have taken exception to the ruling of Criminal Court “C”, which adjudged the bank guilty for Theft of Property, Criminal Conspiracy and Misapplication of Entrusted Property in the tune of US$420,500.00 (less than the US$930,500 in the indictment) in the case brought against the bank by the Ministry of Justice by and thru Kailondo Petroleum.

Judge Ciapha Carey, who was presiding over the case at Criminal Court “C”, had ruled on May 5, 2022 and adjudged the bank guilty and mandated the bank to pay 50 percent within six months as of the day of the judgment and arrangement be entered on how the balance 50 percent will be paid.

The Ministry of Justice by and thru Kailondo Petroleum represented by its CEO George Bobby Kailondo had indicted the bank for Theft of Property, Criminal Conspiracy, and Misapplication of Entrusted Property to the tune of US$930,500.00. This US$930,500 comprised payments to another Petroleum Importer for petroleum products, two ECOBANK returned clearing checks in the name of Kailondo Petroleum value US$50,000 each which were debited to the customer’s account on separate dates, a US$40,000 check issued by George Kailondo from his personal account to his company (Kailondo Petroleum) account, which was debited from George Kailondo’s account and Credited to Kailondo Petroleum account, US$168,000 which represents the difference between the value for amount paid for an LC at maturity and the opening amount for the LC and US$112,500 which represent commissions for 2 LCs that were debited from Kailondo Petroleum Account for which it is alleged there was no authorization from the customer.

During closing arguments on Friday, April 29, 2022, State lawyers conceded that the US$510,000.00 should be disregarded, which the Judge apparently listened to, thus reducing the total amount the bank was adjudged guilty of to be US$420,500.00. Some legal pundits are wondering whether what the judge did was proper; by rendering judgment on an amount less than what was in the indictment.

A source in the bank, who begged for anonymity because of not being clothed with the authority to speak to the press, said that the bank is baffled that the Judge would adjudge the bank guilty of debits for returned clearing checks that were initially credited to the customer’s account when they were deposited and debited when they were returned. What was the bank expected to do when the checks were returned? Equally baffling is the US$40,000 check that George Kailondo issued to his company account from his personal account. As should be, his personal account was debited and his company account credited. How on earth can these be construed as unauthorized debits or theft of property or criminal conspiracy when the evidence of the credit to the account of the beneficiary (Kailondo Petroleum) is very clear in the account statement, the source wondered? Was the State able to prove beyond ALL REASONABLE DOUBT that the bank committed these alleged acts? During the trial, the bank provided the statement of account of the customer and other documents to support the contested transactions. “It, therefore, comes as a shock that the Judge ruled the way he did after listening to all the evidence”, the source stated.

As expected, the bank’s lawyers have accepted to the ruling and announced an appeal to the Supreme Court.

The rulings of Criminal Court “C” over the last few weeks have left banking institutions to wonder what is happening. It can be recalled that the empaneled jury in the criminal case brought against another bank (Global Bank) by the LACC on behalf of the same Kailondo Petroleum voted 11 against 1 and held the bank liable for US$4.3miillon dollars due to what was termed unauthorized debit of Kailondo Petroleum account maintained at the bank. This was despite the bank providing documentary and oral testimonies in court to counter the allegations. This verdict was upheld by Judge Carey of Criminal Court “C” on May 5, 2022. Global Bank has also excepted to this ruling, asked for a retrial and announced an appeal to the Supreme Court.

The banks are hoping that with the documentary and testimonial pieces of evidence adduced in court during the trials, the wisdom of the Justices of the Supreme Court will prevail and have these unjust judgments overturned or new trials ordered.

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