Scores of customers of the Nsawam branch of the GCB Bank Limited have been left stranded at the premises after a court order has caused the bank to be shut down Thursday morning.
The shut down order comes after the bank failed to release the Ghc 3.7million account of Global Coin, a defunct money scheme, which held the investment of customers.
Sources say the bank refused to release the account on the instruction of the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO).
Victims who spoke to Starr News say they suspect a collusion between some officials of the bank and EOCO to keep their monies unlawfully.
Chronology of events and EOCO legal drama
In September, 2018 Global Coin Community Help (GCCH) abruptly closed down its offices in Accra, Koforidua and Nsawam without any notice to its over hundred -thousand customers.
A panic action which was taken after the Bank of Ghana issued strong warning to unlicensed deposit taking institutions to stop operating. Customers of the crypto currency firm sensing danger of their lost investments, dashed in groups to petition EOCO to assist them retrieve their locked up investments.
The 831 victims were advised by EOCO to take legal action against the company upon which separate civil suits were filed at the Koforidua High Court against the GCCH company and its CEO, Kweku Damete Kumi on the 20th and 23rd November, 2018.
On December, 2018 and January, 2019 the plaintiffs secured two separate judgement in absentia as defendant failed to make appearance in court.
Before the judgement, the Court granted the victims an Interlocutory Injunction order on the account of the company at GCB Bank on the10th of December, 2018.
Ten days to the expiration of the freezing order, the court granted an additional freezing order which preserved the account till determination of the matter.
On 19th January, 2019 EOCO also went to secure a freezing order on the same account at the Accra High Court.
The Koforidua High Court on 21st January, 2019 ordered GCB Bank to release to the customers an amount of Gh¢3.7 million in the garnisheed account which the bank accepted to comply.
However on February 4, 2019, GCB Bank returned to court through a motion to inform the court about their challenge in complying with the payment order and asked for further directions from the court due to the fact that the Bank had also received another injunction from Accra High Court by EOCO to keep the same account frozen.
After the court heard both counsels for plaintiff and the GCB Bank, the final ruling from the Koforidua High Court Judge was an order to GCB Bank to release the funds within seven days.
In addition, the judge concluded that, due to the indolent conduct of EOCO, they were not to benefit from the said account.
“The Plaintiffs, I find, have been proactive and brought their complaint before the court as advised by EOCO. EOCO on the other hand has been very indolent and should not benefit from their indolence at the expense of the diligent plaintiffs in the instant case,” excerpt of the ruling stated.
Despite this ruling, GCB Bank refused to release the money.
After a month of follow ups by the plaintiffs on GCB Bank to pay which proved futile, a contempt application was filed against GCB Bank on 11th of March, 2019.
Just before the commencement of the hearing of the contempt application against GCB Bank, EOCO rushed to the court to file for a joinder to be part of the contempt hearing.
EOCO was thrown out of court for their refusal to appear to move the motion they have filed.
But EOCO returned to the court to get their motion relisted a week later and filed another motion for joinder. For the second time, EOCO was thrown out of court again for their absence in court to move the motion which a cost of GH¢1,000 was slapped on EOCO.
On April 23,2019 EOCO returned to court again to file for the re-enlistment of their motion for joinder for the third time just when the judge has asked Counsel of the plaintiffs to file her hearing application for the contempt.
The Koforidua Circuit Court “B” had already issued a bench warrant on the 10th April, 2019 for the arrest of the Directors of the Company – Kwaku Damete Kumi and two others but EOCO on the 29th April, 2019 reportedly blocked Police Personnel from the Eastern Regional Police Headquarters from arresting them.
On May 8, 2019 EOCO failed to appear in Court to move its own motion filed as Joinder to the contempt against GCB Bank.
The judge ordered that EOCO be served with the hearing notice for them to appear on May 20, 2019 .The court again awarded a cost of GH¢500 against EOCO.
EOCO moves Joinder Motion.
On Monday May 20 ,2019, Counsel for EOCO pleaded with the court to allow the Office relist their JOINDER motion which was initially struck out of court which was granted by the Judge since the Cousel for the Palintiffs-Abigail Ofori Appiah Esquire did not raise any objection .
The Presiding Judge therefore asked EOCO to move the motion.In the submission of Cousel for EOCO ,he said GCB bank has not committed any crime for them to be punished for contempt rather, they acted upon the freezing order granted to EOCO by a Court of Competent Jurisdiction.
After minutes of oral submissions by the counsel of EOCO , Counsel for the plaintiffs argued in a rebuttal that, there is no provision in C.I. 47 order 50 for a third party or an interested party to be joined to contempt case. Therefore EOCO’s plea to join in the Contempt case against GCB should not be granted.
On May 13, 2019 the Commercial Division of the Koforidua High Court struck out a motion by GCB praying the Court to make the plaintiffs stay of execution pending an Appeal which it has filed challenging an early ruling of the court ordering the release of GH¢3.7million from the account of GCCH at GCB Bank in seven days.
The court awarded cost of GH¢4000 against the GCB Bank and on same day, the Koforidua High Court 4 adjourned a similar hearing to May 29, 2019 upon request by Counsel for GCB Bank to respond to legal argument of counsel of the Plaintiffs.
The Commercial Division of the Koforidua High Court had again struck out Joinder application filed by the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO).
GCB however refused to release the amount citing that EOCO has also secured freezing order on the same account on 18th January, 2019 at the Accra High Court a month after the customers already froze the account.