Republic Bank Board Chair, Charles Zwennes

Board Chairman of Republic Bank, Charles Zwennes has described as false and misleading media reports that he had been found by a court of competent jurisdiction to be liable for conflict of interest.

This is after the court directed that he recuses himself as a lawyer for one Eric Gbeho who had filed a suit praying the court to order an interlocutory injunction restraining Philip Addison from exercising statutory powers as the Company Secretary of Merlin Gaming Ghana Limited.

But lawyers for Merlin Gaming Ghana, in a countersuit, asked the court to disqualify Mr Zwennes and his Chamber from representing Eric Gbeho in the suit.

According to the private legal practitioner, even though he was ordered not to proceed as a lawyer for Eric Gbeho he was not banned from ever representing him in other matters.

In a statement to react to the media reports and copied to Joy Business, Mr Zwennes not only raised questions with about the media publications but also stated that he was never contacted for a response with regards to the issue.

“I wish to react in the exercise of my right to be heard by way of rejoinder to your article carried in your copy of today’s paper which has been circulated and republished variously on several internet news networks. 

“I was neither interviewed nor spoken with prior to your writing and publication of the story.  Had you initially acted fairly and done so to hear my version of the events you would have appreciated that,” he added.

He also said “the mischief of this reportage is betrayed by the fact that it is rather Phillip Addison, who is at the centre of this lawsuit, and who is being sued by Mr. Gbeho in order to prevent him from committing illegality and a fraud on the company.”

Below is the full statement;

I wish to react in exercise of my right to be heard by way of rejoinder to your article carried in your copy of today’s paper which has been circulated and republished variously on several internet news networks.  I was neither interviewed nor spoken with prior to your writing and publication of the story.  Had you initially acted fairly and done so to hear my version of the events you would have appreciated that:

1. The title to the story was misleading in stating “Republic Board Chairman liable for conflict of interest”, which appears intended to mischievously suggest to the reader that this court decision was somehow made in the context of a disciplinary matter lodged against me and my law firm.  It also falsely suggests that the matters before the Court somehow involved some actions of mine in my capacity as Board Chairman of The Republic Bank Ghana Limited, and therefore relates in that regard, to the affairs of the bank.  In fact, both these notions are totally and completely false, incorrect and misleading.  The disqualification merely said that neither I nor my law firm could act for Mr. Eric Gbeho in the lawsuit brought by him against Phillip Addison and was restricted to that lawsuit alone.  Importantly, neither Mr. Gbeho nor the company Merlin Gaming Ghana Limited are in any way debarred by the ruling from using Charles Zwennes and his law firm for any other legal matters, cases and in the rendering of legal services now or into the future. Your report additionally fails to point out that the same ruling of Mr Justice Koomson expressly confirms that, outside the matter pending before him, Charles Zwennes currently continues to be the company’s lawyer. The ruling did not adversely find any exploitation or evidence of any advantage gained or taken either by me or my law firm against the interests of the company.  Additionally, no prejudice was found to have been suffered by the said same company by our representation of it.  It is with regret to find therefore, that your article goes very far in creating the misleading impression by its title heading and its repeated innuendo of “conflict of interest”.

2. The mischief of this reportage is betrayed by the fact that it is rather Mr. Phillip Addison, who is at the centre of this law suit, and who is being sued by Mr. Gbeho in order to prevent him from committing an illegality and a fraud on the company.

3. In fact, the truth is that Phillip Addison has been sued to prevent him (and a dubious client of his) from exploiting the said company by seeking to access its bank accounts which are held at Stanbic Bank  – to which he sent a misleading letter of authority in order to lay his hands on the company’s monies to fund some interests and aspirations of his which are best known to himself.

4. Your article although correct in reporting that Charles Zwennes and his law firm, acting for their client Eric Gbeho, sued Mr Phillip Addison and that the said court action against Mr Phillip Addison is still actively being prosecuted against him, fails, however, to point out that Mr Justice Koomson has given Mr Phillip Addison  3 days (due date 14.03.20) within which to file evidence to disprove the assertion that he has not been duly and properly appointed as company secretary of the company.  Since being sued from as far back as in June 2019, Mr Addison has to date failed to provide the court with any evidence of his appointment, and hence the need for the court’s order made against him which is referred to above.  The inability of Mr Addison to answer such a simple question levelled at him in a court action further highlights the real motive behind the mischievously distracting and misleading reportage claiming that the Chairman of the Board of a publicly-listed lending institution has been disqualified for conflict of interest. 

5. Your article also fails to mention that Mr Phillip Addison was sued because he is being accused of falsely holding himself out as the company secretary and for unlawfully changing the mandated signatories to the company’s bank accounts to his own name to enable him lay his hands on the company’s finances and misapply same to his own ends.  Further in that regard, your article fails to point out that Mr Justice Koomson has seen merit in the fears harboured by the Applicant, Eric Gbeho, about Phillip Addison’s unlawful intentions, and therefore saw fit on 28.02.20 to order an interlocutory injunction against Mr. Phillip Addison restraining him from in any way falsely holding himself out as its company secretary or mandated signatory with authority over the company’s monies in its bank accounts and from in any way intermeddling in its affairs until the final determination of the suit.

6. Your article also fails to highlight that the ruling of Mr Justice Koomson has been appealed against by Mr. Eric Gbeho and is also subject to an application for Certiorari which I myself have brought before the Supreme Court seeking to quash the said ruling.

7.  It ought to be remembered in reporting ongoing court litigation cases that indeed in every one of them, the trial judge is expected necessarily to play an umpirical role in guiding what he sees as maintaining a balance between the respective parties’ interests in the case whilst it is ongoing.  It is premature, and indeed very misleading to rely on preliminary matters to prejudge the outcome of an action that has not as yet travelled the full course to its final conclusion.  The attempt by any one party to seek to use reports of the court’s interim measures merely to scandalise lawyers professionally engaged is to say the least, desperate, scurrilous, and frowned upon by the honourable profession of lawyers.

8. Last but least the accuracy of your reportage in the future could at least also take the trouble of spelling the names of subjects of your stories more accurately.  My name is “Charles Zwennes”, and not the variations of same used interchangeably by your journalist.

I would appreciate it if you publish this on your network and newspaper with the equal prominence given to your earlier story.

Yours sincerely,

Charles Zwennes Esq.