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The Fast Track High Court has ordered the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) to pay GH?400,000 to its former Managing Director, Mr Yaw Opoku Atuahene.

The money is Mr Atuahene?s entitlement.

The amount, the court ordered, must include interest since July 2009 when the plaintiff?s appointment was wrongfully terminated by the bank.

The plaintiff sued the bank through his lawyer, Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame, for wrongful dismissal, but the bank filed its response and made counter claims of fraud against him.

However, the court, presided over by Mr Justice P. S. Ofei, after a full trial, entered judgement in favour of Mr Atuahene and further directed the bank to calculate  the plaintiff?s end-of-service benefits and pay same.

In the court?s considered opinion, Mr Atuahene had successfully served the bank as Managing Director and, therefore, deserved to be paid off.

The bank was also ordered to sell to plaintiff his official Mercedes Benz car at five per cent of the original purchase price.

The views of the court

Citing authorities to buttress its decision, the court found, as established, the fact that the plaintiff had not been specifically accused of any wrongdoing by the bank before the institution of the court action.

According to the court, nothing in the purported audit report supported the bank?s contention that plaintiff had committed the crime of causing financial loss or fraud.

It was of the view that the supposed audit report was prepared by the ADB after Mr Atuahene?s employment as Managing Director had been terminated.

In any event, the court noted that the only finding made in that audit report was the alleged breach of administrative procedures by some of the bank?s employees.

Violation of fair hearing

Rather, it submitted that the bank had, indeed, violated the plaintiff?s right to a fair hearing through the manner in which it had come out with the purported audit findings without according the plaintiff the opportunity to be heard on the adverse findings made against him.

It further found that the purported audit report clearly smacked of ?mischief? because no adverse findings were made against the plaintiff while he was in office.

It stated that taking into account the fact that the purported audit report was prepared after a change of government and a new board had been put in place consequent on the change, the audit report was clearly an ?afterthought? and a ?ploy? to deny the plaintiff of his lawful entitlements.

Background

The plaintiff was the managing director of the bank until July 23, 2009 when his employment was terminated with effect from July 31, 2009, with the constitution of a new board after the change of government.

The plaintiff had argued that consequent to the termination of his employment, various pecuniary obligations owed him by the bank were not discharged.

He, after persistent but unheeded demands for the satisfaction of same, issued a writ of summons at the Fast Track Division of the High Court on May 21, 2010.

Reliefs sought

The financial obligations plaintiff sued for included the determination of his end-of-service benefits, payment of his three months? salary in lieu of notice, his share of the Provident Fund which consisted of his personal contributions, as well as a portion contributed by the bank, the payment of the financial value of plaintiff?s accumulated leave of 240 working days, as well as his share of the ADB?s profit for the year 2009.

Aside from denying some of the plaintiff?s claims, the bank resisted other claims on the basis that the financial obligations owed him had been withheld as a result of the withdrawal by plaintiff and other employees of defendant of various sums of money belonging to defendant and which plaintiff and those employees were yet to account for.

Counter claims of ADB

In a counter claim, the bank said the plaintiff and other employees of the bank connived with others and caused the withdrawal of or withdrew money to the tune of $575, 660, as well as GH?101,000.

Those sums of money, according to the bank, remained outstanding and unaccounted for and were, therefore, due from the plaintiff to the bank.

It also argued that these matters were duly investigated by the Internal Audit Department of the ADB, pursuant to which the board of the bank decided to withhold the payment to the plaintiff of his monetary entitlements.

Source: Daily Graphic

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