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High Court summons FDH Bank bosses

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Top four bosses at FDH Bank Limited have been ordered to appear before the High Court in Blantyre to explain why they are holding the court in contempt by disobeying an order given by the court on September 27 2013 and January 6 2014 following a protracted legal battle with Maranatha Girls Academy Limited.

In an interview, Judiciary Spokesperson, Mlenga Mvula, confirmed the summoning of FDH Bank Managing Director Eric Ouattara, his deputy William Mpinganjira, Head of Credit Arthur Yapuwa and Rehabilitation and Recoveries Manager Joseph Khonje following fresh application.

“Once found guilty, they risk being fined or given custodial sentence. Hearing of the matter will take place in the chambers on May 18 2017, for the four to explain why they are not complying with the injunction,” Mlenga said.

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FDH Financial Holdings Marketing Manager, Sobhuza Ngwenya, said as far as the bank is concerned, no any official has been served any fresh summons for committal proceedings. He said that if the summons are served, appropriate action will be taken to defend the bank.

He added that what the bank believes Maranatha Girls Academy wants to do is to get the court to decide whether there was any contempt by FDH Bank.

“The position of FDH Bank is that there was no any injunction existing at the time of the alleged contempt. However, the Bank cannot say whether there was contempt or not, because that is the question for the Court to decide,” he said.

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Ngwenya said the bank is taking all reasonable steps to realise the security on Maranatha Girls Academy because FDH Bank believes that Maranatha is liable to pay for the amounts owing.

But lawyer for the school, Cassius Chidothe, confirmed delivery of the notice.

“It is true the court will ask them to plead guilty or not to the contempt matter,” he said.

Maranatha first wanted FDH Bank Holdings Chief Executive Officer, Thom Mpinganjira, to answer contempt charges but has now changed since the matter in question is between FDH Bank and Maranatha Girls Academy and not the Holdings.

Documents signed by the Registrar of the High Court dated April 25 2017 and served on FDH Bank show that the court also feels the bank has disobeyed a court injunction which was issued in 2013 and 2014.

“The four are holding this court in contempt by blatantly and contemptuously disobeying an order given by this court on September 27, 2013 and January 6, 2014, wherein an injunction was granted restraining the Respondent [FDH Bank] either by itself, its servants or agents from realising security in title number South Lunzu 7/45 in the city of Blantyre until the determination of this matter or a further order of the court,” reads part of the notice.

But some of the FDH Bank’s officers were last month sent to Maranatha to assess the premises again, something the court and Maranatha think undermined the injunction and contempt of court charges.

The court battle between the two entities dates back to 2013, when the bank advertised for sale of the school for its failure to settle a loan that Maranatha got from the bank but in turn the school sued FDH Bank for loss of business.

At first Maranatha Girls Academy Limited was awarded about K785 million but in his ruling in April last year, Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda slashed the figure to K392 million and other costs after the Supreme Court determination is made on the matter.

Nyirenda ordered FDH Bank to pay Maranatha Girls Academy for the bank’s failure to give the school three months statutory notice when it advertised in newspapers on July 25, 2012 that it would sell Maranatha Girls Academy Limited.

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