MONROVIA: The Nigerian-owned Guaranty Trust Bank Liberia Limited, commonly known as “GT Bank,” has once again been entangled in what appears to be a web of two separate, but unauthorized withdrawals allegedly from the saving account of businessman, Cllr. George Bobby Kailondo, CEO of Kailondo Petroleum.
Over the years, GT Bank had been associated in a series of allegations which ranged from bad labor practices against some of its staffers, maltreatment of its employees, and the unauthorized tempering with customer’s saving accounts. On all these allegations, the bank has consistently denied any wrong-doings.
However, the GT-Bank Liberia was once accused by former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), Charles Sirleaf, for allegedly tampering with his account by withdrawing a huge sum of money.
The Bank also came under public spotlight when it was accused by Mr. Nathaniel F. McGill, former Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and Ex-Chief of Staff in the Office of President George Manneh Weah for the bank’s alleged withdrawal of funds from the account of the then Minister McGill without his approval.
Now, a popular businessman, Cllr. George Kailondo/ of Kailondo Petroleum Incorporated has raised similar claims of unapproved withdrawal against the bank while the bank is also calling on Cllr. Kailondo to pay a debt the businessman allegedly owes it.
Since 2015, GT-Bank and Kailondo Petroleum have been embroiled in pulling and hauling bordering on a number of confidence crises as it relates to Kailondo Petroleum’s reported debt payment.
It can be recalled that in 2022, Cllr. Kailondo filed an “Action of Damages for Wrong” against the Management of the GT-Bank Liberia Limited, headed, then, by Mr. Ikenna Anekwa, barely a month after Criminal Court “C” at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia, under the gavel of Judge T. Ciapha Carey, handed down a guilty verdict against the bank for the commission of the crimes of theft of Property, Misapplication of Entrusted Property and Criminal Conspiracy.
The “Action for Damages for Wrong”, filed by the Kailondo Petroleum Inc., requested Criminal Court “C” to ensure that GT-Bank Liberia pays the plaintiff, (Kailondo Petroleum) a mouthwatering amount of US$2million for the “injury and wicked action carried out by the defendant (GT-Bank) by destroying his character.”
The plaintiff (Cllr. Kailondo) in the ‘Action for Damages for Wrong” lawsuit, then, accused the GT Bank of destroying his hard-earned business reputation through the issuance of ‘Non-Compliance” letter, dated August 12, 2020, that according to the plaintiff, made him to appear as a risk for doing business.
Also, GT-Bank filed its response to Criminal Court “C” attached to a “Motion to Dismiss” on grounds that there still exists a legal matter between both parties for the same cause of action pending in another court of law under the Liberia jurisprudence.
The Kailondo Petroleum’s “Action of Damages for Wrong” lawsuit has its root from Criminal Court “C”’s guilty verdict against GT Bank for the crimes of “Theft of Property, Misapplication of Entrusted Property and Criminal Conspiracy filed during the November Term of Court, 2021.
At the time, Criminal Court ‘C’’s verdict said: “Finally, this Court says on the issue of whether or not the State proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the Defendant Bank did do and commit the crimes of Theft of Property, Misapplication of Entrusted Property, and Criminal Conspiracy, this Court responds resoundingly in the affirmative. This Court further asserts that there is overwhelming evidence which connects the defendant Management to the aforementioned crimes for which the Bank was indicted.”
“Wherefore, and in view of the foregoing facts and circumstances and the law controlling, it is the final judgment of this Court that the Defendant Bank is adjudged guilty for the commission of the crimes of Theft of Property, Misapplication of Entrusted Property and Criminal Conspiracy. The Guaranty Trust Bank (GT Bank) is hereby ordered to restitute the judgment amount of US$420, 000 (four hundred and twenty thousand United States Dollars) to Kailondo Petroleum Inc., by and thru its President/CEO, Cllr. George B. Kailondo, Sr. within six (6) months as of the date of this final judgment.
It is hereby so ordered,” Criminal Court “C”, May 5, 2022 ruling stated.
However, Cllr. Kailondo has again accused GT Bank of withdrawing some funds from his saving account, which he, said, amounted to US$112,000. He alleged that the bank made two separate withdrawals from his account.
While GT Bank has up to today’s date maintained that the withdrawal transaction was approved by Cllr. Kailondo, the bank is yet to make available any legal instruments to authenticate that the account holder (Cllr. Kailondo) had sanctioned the transaction.
But, the same GT-Bank on June 28, 2021, communicated with Kailondo Petroleum Incorporated via its legal representation, Cllr. Jallah A. Barbu, saying while the bank has maintained that the transfer was approved, the bank couldn’t provide documentation to back its claim.
In June 28, 2021, GT-Bank wrote the defendant (Kailondo Petroleum) through its legal counsel which was in response to a May 24, 2021, communication in which the defendant raised qualms with GT-Bank, alleging several unscrupulous transactions with defendant’s account at the bank.
In several paragraphs of GT Bank’s 6-page communication captioned: “Post-Reconciliation Exercise-Kailondo Petroleum Accounts” in response to the defendant’s qualms of mishandling his saving account, the GT-Bank extended apology to Kailondo for the unauthorized transferred of funds from his (Kailondo) accounts.
The opening paragraph of GT-Bank June 28 letter states: “The Bank has concluded a review of its internal records and has obtained confirmations requested from some of the parties to the LC transaction(s) including one of its confirming banks-Banque de Commerce et de Placements (BCP) of Geneva, Switzerland. Based on the review concluded of its records and the decision of the bank, acting in good faith but on a “without prejudice” basis, to accept responsibility for records not currently available, we hereby submit below the Bank’s detailed responses to each of the material claims of KP contained in your May 22, 2023 letter.”
GT-Bank, responding to Kailondo’s apparent suspicion of someone tempering with his saving account stated: “Despite diligent search, the Bank has been unable to find copies of the LC Agreement and the Offer Letter in connection with which it charged KP’s account with the amount of US$50,000.00 as 2% commission on the value the LC amount. While the Bank believes that this transaction was legitimate and the charging of the commission was not arbitrary but based on requisite authorization at the time, the absence of the duly-signed LC Agreement and the Offer Letter leaves the bank with very little option but to reverse the transaction and credit KP’s account with the corresponding US$50,000,00 debited.”
The GT-Bank also admitted to transferring US$62, 500, 00 from Kailondo saving account which it says up to press time documentation to prove that the transferred was authorized by Kailondo cannot be found.
“The Bank has also not succeeded up to date in finding copies of the LC Agreement and the Offer Letter for the LC in respect of which it charged the account of KP with the amount of US$62, 500, 00 representing 2% Commission of the LC amount of US2.5 million. Despite the Bank’s firm belief that this transaction was legitimate and supported by the required authorization at the time of execution, the absence of duly-signed LC Agreement and the Offer letter leaves the Bank with very little option but to reverse the transaction and credit KP’s account with the corresponding US$62,500.00 debited.”
With the admittance of errors on GT Bank’s part, some keen observers are left wondering as to how serious GT-Bank’s claim that KP and ACE Global unilaterally without its consent removed petroleum products that are a subject of a Collateral Management Agreement (CMA) from the LPRC.
What is more of a concern to legal analysts is that GT-Bank Liberia Limited, as a financial institution seems not to have a spelled out guidelines on how to handle financial documents by seemingly not accounting for several customers’ accounts as it was the case of the former CBL Deputy Governor, among others.