One of the Groupe Nduom companies, Gold Securities Company Ltd now BlackShield and Ghana Growth Fund Company Limited, members of Groupe Nduom, an indigenous Ghanaian business conglomerate, have won a massive GHS174 million judgment against Health Network Company Limited.
The ruling was given by the Commercial Division of an Accra High Court on Thursday, July 15th, 2021.
The ruling, according to Groupe Nduom owners and other stakeholders, “proves regulators acted hastily in revoking licenses of the Groupe’s banking and investment companies”. The Groupe Nduom companies that have suffered regulator closure are Gold Coast Securities/Blackshield and GN Bank/GN Savings & Loans.
The actions of the regulators have also caused huge collateral damage to related companies as they have been starved of deposits they placed with their sister companies. The judgment, the Groupe owners contend, absolves them of wrongdoing and confirms their long-held position that “customers’ funds were invested in Ghana with private and government institutions and government projects”.
It was based on the prudent investments that till today, Groupe Nduom still stands by its claim that government agencies and the contractors they gave legitimate contracts to owe the Groupe, more than GHS3 billion that is continuing to attract interest. Interestingly enough, a lawyer who claimed to represent a “Receiver” waited until judgment was rendered then got up to ask to be allowed to join the case. She was promptly shut down by the judge.
The ruling further proves the point that if those who had taken money placed with them had paid even 15 % of what was due GN Bank/GoldCoast/Blackshield, the companies would still have been in operation.
The suit was commenced by Writ of Summons and Statement of Claim issued at the Registry of High Court, Accra, Commercial Division dated 11th October, 2019. Justice Shiela Minta was the presiding judge in the matter brought before the court.
After failed attempts to get all the four (4) Defendants to be served in the ordinary manner prescribed by the Court Rules, an application was brought before the court for substituted service to enable the plaintiff to serve the defendants by substitution which application was granted.
All efforts through service of hearing notices to the defendants to attend pre-trial conference also proved futile until the matter was referred to a trial court. At the trial court, a motion on notice for judgment in default of appearance was first brought against the defendants. It was this application that forced the defendants to enter an appearance through their solicitors.
Subsequent to this, the defendants with their lawyers engaged Plaintiff’s lawyers with Plaintiffs’ representatives also in meetings in an attempt to reach some settlement.
However, after the said meetings in which the defendants’ state of indebtedness was clearly established to satisfaction, the defendants failed to demonstrate any good faith and also to propose a payment plan as the Plaintiffs were made to believe they would.
This compelled a subsequent application for judgment in default of defence as they did not have any defence to the suit. In the morning of 27th May 2021, before the motion for judgment in default of defence was to be moved, Counsel for Defendants handed over a cheque of GHS 2,000,000.00 to Counsel for Plaintiff.
This paltry sum of GHc 2,000,000.00 relative to Defendants’ debt of GHc 174,100,037.40 could not be used to influence Plaintiff’s lawyers’ resolve to move the court to enter judgment in default of defence at all cost.
After vain efforts by counsel for defendants to persuade Plaintiff’s lawyers to oblige their last adjournment, the court by itself formed the opinion that in the light of the fact before it and the defendants’ gesture that had come to its attention, it would exercise discretion to oblige the defendants the last adjournment to enable them respond more favourably to Plaintiff’s claim before the court.
Accordingly, the court granted a short adjournment beyond the maturity date of the cheque(4/06/21) to 14th June, 2021 to first ensure that the cheque would clear and also for defendants to show cause why the pending application for judgment in default of defence should not be granted on the next adjourned date.
To the disbelief of the Plaintiffs and their lawyers, even the small GHc2 million cheque failed to clear. The Defendants had allegedly tricked the court and disrespected the office of Justice Shiela Minta. On the strength of the overwhelming evidential facts, Justice Minta on Thursday 15th July awarded judgment for GHS174 million-plus GHS50,000 in costs in favour of the Plaintiffs.
According to a spokesperson for Groupe Nduom, this is the first of a number of court cases pending before the law courts. They involve private sector companies, government agencies, and regulators. The belief is that when all is said and done, the wild allegations made against specific Groupe Nduom companies and shareholders will be put to rest.
It will be recalled that one senior official of the Securities and Exchange Commission when BlackShield appealed to the regulator for assistance to retrieve customer funds invested to support government infrastructure projects, retorted in a public interview that “…the Commission is not a debt collector”.
The Commission turned around to revoke the license of BlackShield. That action emboldened private and state organizations to refuse to pay back what was legitimately owed. BlackShield until its license was revoked had paid over GHS600 million to some of its customers and still stands by its commitment to return funds invested as it is able to collect receivables.