Ecobank Offers To Pay Part Of ‘Stolen Money’ -In US$850k Lawsuit

MONROVIA: Credible reports filtering in to the media say Ecobank Liberia has offered to return part of the money allegedly stolen from one of its customers, Atlantic Finance Corporation (AFC).

According to the reports, the bank has offered to pay US$27,000 of US$33,680 ((L$6.5 million) money fraudulently taken from AFC’s account by its teller.

However, the reports say the bank has denied responsibility for the theft.

In the bank’s answer to the plaintiff AFC complaint, it contended that it was not responsible for the fraudulent action by one of its tellers because “plaintiff was negligent in handling their checkbook and not reviewing their accounts regularly”.

But the bank said it was ready to repay US$27,000 of the stolen amount without “maximum delay.”

Meanwhile, the case has been ruled to trial and assigned for Tuesday, October 17, 2023 at the Sixth Judicial Circuit, Civil Law Court of Montserrado County.

It can be recalled that AFC recently sued Ecobank-Liberia for US$850,000 special and general damages for allegedly stealing over US$33,000 from its accounts.

In a complaint filed at the Sixth Judicial Circuit Civil Law Court at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia, Plaintiff through its lawyer Cllr. Sayma Syrenius Cephus said at material time diverse, its Account#610-008-2182,was criminally  hijacked for a considerable period of time, first with the sporadic withdrawal of monies and then the subsequent sustained  and illegal withdrawal of  US$ 33,630.00(US by a well-orchestrated criminal syndicate, using the business  infrastructure of the defendant as a front  to ply its trade,  or hiding under and effectively  using  the   power and authority granted defendant to access and supervise Plaintiff’s account  to hatch and consummate the  looting of  Plaintiff’s account.

The complainant disclosed that when these illegal withdrawals were discovered, Plaintiff earnestly endeavored  to call the attention of the defendant in writing a communication dated February 10, 2023   to  remedy  the situation, but the defendant failed, neglected and refused  to even acknowledge  receipt of, or reply the communication, let alone taking corrective  steps corrective   to timely  arrest the  rebel-style  looting of  Plaintiff’s  account under the watchful eyes of the defendant.

It furthered that the continued looting of its account with no action taken by the defendant, created a serious   financial crisis for Plaintiff, and being that it had a cordial relation with the defendant management, Plaintiff sought to inform senior management officials including but not limited to the Chairman of the Board of Directors, the Managing Director, among others, verbally and through written communications about the incident but no action was taken to address its’ complaint.

The complainant contended that the allegations that certain individual related to Plaintiff either stole a checkbook or also jointly participated in the theft is not an excuse on grounds that the consummation of the sustained illegal withdrawal of the US$ 33,680 from its’ account was masterminded by Leaquay Amara Zor, an employee and agent of the defendant acting for and on behalf of the defendant throughout the period the theft was committed.

The plaintiff indicated that as a law-abiding body corporate, it took the pains to engage the defendant to resolve this matter short of litigation and in furtherance of this, it visited on countless occasions the offices of the defendant, but the defendant for no apparent reason chose to pay no material attention to this matter, but instead and then taking pleasure in drilling Plaintiff around for the fun of it.

Plaintiff says that it was not until it heightens the pressure on defendant that defendant reported the matter to the Liberia National Police which investigated the incident and found the defendant liable for the criminal conduct of its employee, Leaquay Amara Zor.

“Plaintiff says as compelling as the evidence gathered by the police investigative report was, the defendant showed no remorse of conscience  for the rebel-style looting  of Plaintiff’s account under its watchful eyes, and in  a callous  attempt to unduly incriminate Plaintiff and create a fake impression of a joint culpability  for the theft of the US$ US$ 33,630.00(US Thirty Three Thousand Six Hundred Thirty Dollars), the defendant prepared and forwarded to Plaintiff a purported indemnity bond in which the defendant suggested that Plaintiff should pay 75%  and the defendant, a   paltry 25% of  the money that was stolen from Plaintiff’s account. What else is an open insult to Plaintiff than this suggestion?” It wonders.

The complainant says it rejected and continues to reject the joint criminal culpability suggestion advanced by the defendant and because of this, it forwarded all of the documents including police report, indemnity bond and other instruments related to this matter to its legal counsel, AFDASA Global Consultancy for review and advice.

Plaintiff told the court that AFDASA, after a careful review and analysis  of the documents,  wrote a letter demand to the defendant     on  August 4, 2023,  and  rejected the joint criminal culpability suggestion advanced by the defendant  and thereby  demanded that the defendant unconditionally credit Plaintiff’s account within 10 days as of the date of the communication, but  the defendant,  like on previous occasions, has neither acknowledged receipt of,  nor  ever replied the communication, let alone addressing the object and purpose of Plaintiff’s letter demand which was intended to credit Plaintiff’s account.

But it said the defendant in its usual fashion of sporting with  the idea   or of playing blind eyes and deaf ears to the theft and abused of Plaintiff’s  account by Leaquay Amara Zor in concert with other individuals,  decided to  send a team of  low key agents, with no decision-making power and authority to Plaintiff and its legal counsel under the pretext that defendant and Plaintiff had had a cordial relationship over the years,  and therefore, the meeting was intended to get a full understanding of what had happened to Plaintiff’s account, and thereby find a way to mitigate whatever needed to be done to resolve the problem but in truth, the meeting was meant to tease and  demonstrate that the theft of US$ 33,630 from its’ account was quite nebulous and  did not require the presence or the involvement of any senior management official in finding an amicable solution  even though  the defendant had consistently pointed out its alleged  past  cordial relationship with plaintiff spanning over a considerable period of time.

The complainant pointed out the attempt by the defendant to unduly  belabor and obfuscate  the immediate demand for the defendant to unconditionally credit  Plaintiff’s account with humdrum narratives of a purported existing friendship  that was never respected by the defendant from the day the mentioned amount was stolen seems part of the game plan by the defendant  to use low key agents and representatives in its employ  to  recount or recite these story to confuse  and frustrate Plaintiff  from seeking the appropriate legal remedy.

It furthered that the use of low key agents by the defendant to discuss with Plaintiff the theft of the money which was already instigated by the Liberia National Police and defendant’s agent was held liable was meant to create a fake impression that Plaintiff and the defendant are jointly culpable, which was is not the case.

The complaint: “Plaintiff is constrained to bring this action, and hereby  submits that an action of damages will surely  lie because at material times diverse, Plaintiff lost countless business opportunities amounting to   US$600,000(United States Dollars Six Hundred Thousand), in that Plaintiff was  legally using the  money in the selfsame account   to help small businesses throughout the country by  giving out loans   as a way of keeping these businesses afloat in these critical times, but the defendant has frustrated and grossly undermined  this exercise through the conduct of its agent and employee, Leaquay Amara Zor, who, acting for and on behalf of the defendant, and within the scope of the power vested in him by the  selfsame defendant   used the defendant’s  infrastructure to gain access to, and thereby exercised full control over Plaintiff’s account before looting therefrom the US$ 33,630.00(US Thirty Three Thousand Six Hundred Thirty Dollars) to the detriment of Plaintiff.”

AFC also said it suffered psychological injuries and serious setbacks in acquiring the loan and this was largely due or credited to the defendant’s flagrant disregard of its corporate responsibility to take seize of and address what had become a sustained criminal withdrawal of monies from Plaintiff’s account over a considerable period of time.

It furthered that as a consequence of this, it lost the loan, and subsequent efforts made to again secure other financial loans, also did not materialize and the defendant is solely responsible for the embarrassment Plaintiff has face and continues to face.

The Plaintiff told the court that as a result of the defendant’s attempt to falsely incriminate Plaintiff into the theft of its own US$ 33,630, it has suffered and continues to suffer emotional and   psychological distress, loss of clients and is totally confused to effectively manage the selfsame account.

Prosecution lawyer pointed out that although the defendant knew or has reason to know that its employee or agent has been the mastermind behind the broad day theft and looting of Plaintiff’s account, the defendant has done nothing absolutely to remedy the situation, and for this reason, an action of damages will lie as a matter of law.

To this, it prayed the court to adjudge the defendant liable to the Plaintiff in the amount of US$600,000 as Special Damages for financial losses sustained under the period under review including but not limited to losses in securing financial loans financial institutions.

Plaintiff also wants the court to award it general damages in the tone of US250,000 for emotional trauma, public humiliation, loss of financial opportunities, and denial suffered.

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