Oct 31, 2015 News
The previous Board of Directors of the National Communication Network (NCN) made a decision which cost the cash-strapped company millions of dollars.
In 2014, acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NCN, Michael Gordon, decided to take three “delinquent” companies to court over millions of dollars in outstanding payment for advertisements. Those companies were Kashif and Shangai, Hits and Jams and Wireless Connections.
Kashif and Shangai Inc. owed the state-owned network over $2M. While, Hits and Jams and Wireless connections owed just about $8M and $1.7M respectively. Collectively, the companies owed NCN over $11M.
The NCN management, after exhausting other means of retrieving the money, moved to the courts.
Contacted yesterday about the issue, NCN’s current CEO, Molly Hassan, told Kaieteur News, “What you are saying is true and correct. But the Board decided not to pursue judgment and instructed the CEO to advise NCN counsel who was Jaya Manickchand at the time, of the decision not to pursue.
When asked why the decision was made to quash the matter, Hassan explained that she was not at NCN at the time the matter was taken to court and did not know whose directive it was to go. But she learnt that the Board had “deliberations” after the judgment was handed down.
Former NCN CEO, Michael Gordon said that the decision to move to the court was his. Gordon said that the court was his last resort to get the companies to pay up.
He also made it known that the debt was not incurred under his two-year tenure. “It was inherited by me but I sought to retrieve the money.”
Gordon said that before resorting to the court, he made several other attempts to recover the sums of money. He told Kaieteur News that when he was initially appointed to act as CEO, and was in the process of becoming familiar with things, he came across the issues and went about dealing with them almost immediately.
According to Gordon, cognizant that it was no new debt; he called the proprietors of each of the three companies for a meeting to discuss the outstanding payment, “but the companies continued to be delinquent.
He said that he raised the issue with the Office of the President and sought the intervention of Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon. “Dr. Luncheon advised that we pursue the debt,” said Gordon.
Gordon said that HJ had indicated that the debt was “blessed” by the Office of the President. He explained that the company had applied to Government for sponsorship and was somehow of the opinion that the sponsorship was in the form of free advertisement.
Gordon said that no letter was issued to HJ indicating that the sponsorship was granted and in the absence of such official correspondence, NCN continued trying to get paid.
The former NCN CEO said that all three companies were given other warnings “but remained delinquent” so he took the decision to go the juridical route. The matter was heard by Justice Rishi Persaud.
Judgment was handed down in NCN’s favour and the three companies were ordered to pay the money in a systematic fashion with interest at six per cent and costs.
But after winning the case, and after expending funds on lawyer fees, the Board which was then chaired by Prem Misir, decided that it did not want to pursue judgment. By that time NCN had already expended over $1.4M in fees to Manickchand.
Lawyer fee coupled with the outstanding payment further sank the already struggling company.
Kaieteur News understands that while the majority of the Board was not for quashing the court order, Misir and Kwame McCoy pushed for it.
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