Court orders arbitration on uniBank

Seventeen shareholders of the defunct uniBank, the Receiver of the bank, Nii Amanor Dodoo, and the Attorney-General (A-G) will appear before an arbitrator to settle whether or not the placement of the bank in receivership breached the law.

This follows an order by the Commercial Division of the Accra High Court, presided over by Justice Jennifer Abena Dadzie.

The court upheld a counterclaim by the shareholders of the bank challenging the Bank of Ghana’s (BoG’s) decision to revoke the banking licence of uniBank and place it in receivership, saying it must be heard by an arbitrator, as stipulated in the Bank and Specialised Deposit-Taking Institutions Act, 2016 (Act 930).

Consequently, it has appointed Prof. Justice Samuel Kofi Date-Bah, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, as the arbitrator.

Court case not over 
The ruling by the court does not, however, stop it from adjudicating on the other counterclaims, as the presiding judge held that the court would hear other reliefs in the counterclaims that did not fall under the ambit of Act 930. 

It was the considered view of the court that not all the reliefs in the counterclaim directly challenged the revocation of uniBank’s licence and the appointment of the receiver.

The said the reliefs included a declaration that the receiver did not have the right to “interfere with the sanctity of any contract or transaction entered into between uniBank and any of its customers or shareholders”.

Another relief is an order for general, punitive and exemplary damages.

The ruling by the court was as a result of an application filed by the receiver urging the court to dismiss the entire counterclaim by the shareholders.

Lawyers for the applicant argued that the counterclaims were an attempt by the shareholders to delay the hearing of a suit filed by the receiver against them and that the shareholders knew that the proper forum for their action was arbitration.

Justice Dadzie, however, rejected the argument that all the reliefs in the counterclaim must be determined by arbitration.

“I reject the assertion of the applicant that because a greater portion of the pleadings and counterclaim of the respondents challenged the appointment of the receiver or the actions of the BoG, the entire counterclaim of the respondent should be struck out,” she held.

Suit and counterclaim 
On September 4, 2018, the receiver of the uniBank sued the 17 shareholders for allegedly breaching their fiduciary duties as directors of the bank and, in the process, making the bank incur a GH¢5.7 billion debt, leading to its collapse.

The plaintiff, accordingly, prayed the High Court to hold the 17 defendants jointly liable for all the loss uniBank Ghana Limited had suffered.

The shareholders include Dr Kwabena Duffuor, HODA Holdings Ltd, HODAProperties Ltd, Integrated Properties Ltd, Alban Logistics Ltd, Starlife Assurance, Bolton Portfolio Ltd and Dr Kwabena Duffuor II.

The rest are Opoku Gyamfi Boateng, Prof. Newman Kwadwo-Kusi, Owusu Ansah Awere, Ekow Nyarko Dadzie-Dennis, Clifford Duke Mettle, Boatemaa Kakra Duffour-Nyarko, Kofi Kyereh Darkwah, Nana Boakye Asafu-Adjaye and Alex Gaddiel Buabeng.

The defendants denied all the allegations, and on October 12, 2018, three of them filed a counterclaim accusing the plaintiff of certain infractions and, therefore, seeking certain reliefs.

Dr Duffuor II, Prof. Kwadwo-Kusi and Ms Duffuor-Nyarko, in the counterclaim, accused Nii Dodoo of issuing a defective report, leading to the collapse of the bank.