Latest update June 2nd, 2023 12:49 AM
Oct 04, 2016 News
Five years after it was filed, the wrongful dismissal lawsuit brought against the New Building Society, (NBS) by former Chief Executive Officer, (CEO) Maurice Arjoon is slated to come to an end.
Arjoon sued the Society for wrongful termination of his contract and for withholding his pension.
The case dates back to 2007 when the former CEO was accused of conspiracy to defraud the NBS of $69M.
The accusation against Arjoon and the two managers was that they conspired, using a forged Power of Attorney, to withdraw $69M from a NBS account in the name of Bibi Khan.
But after he was cleared of the charges, Arjoon sued the Society.
Following closing submissions from attorneys representing both Arjoon and the NBS at the Georgetown Supreme Court, Justice Brassington Reynolds set a November date for a ruling on the matter.
In his closing submission, Attorney for the NBS, Ashton Chase S.C highlighted issues of authenticity of the Power of Attorney used in the withdrawal of the sums from Bibi Khan’s account. The defence had contended that the former CEO’s (Arjoon’s) negligence led to his dismissal.
Chase told the court that there is proof that Arjoon did not follow the rules and proper procedures in verifying the authenticity of the Power of Attorney.
Chase said that he found it strange that no proper investigations were done to ascertain the document.
The attorney questioned the logic behind Khan needing a Power of Attorney when her husband is in the country or when she was present in the country.
He insisted that it was the job of the then CEO to take certain steps to investigate the matter.
The attorney further pointed to the stamp affixed to one of the documents which was purportedly from the office of the Consul General in Canada.
Chase said the document bears a stamp from Commissioner General of Canada instead of the Consular General.
However, Judge Reynolds noted that although he could not make out words of the stamp, the document contained the seal of Consul General of Canada.
Arjoon’s Lawyer, Edward Luckhoo S.C, emphasised that the defence arguments are synonymous to the latin term ex nihilo nihil fit, which means “out of nothing comes nothing.”
He stressed that since there is no substance in the defence’s case nothing can come from it.
The attorney then addressed the court extensively on the issues of the Power of Attorney.
Luckhoo noted that Power of Attorney had several privileges which included the right to make deposits and withdrawals.
“Why didn’t he (Chase) tell the court that?”
“He was the one, who tendered the Power of Attorney and now, he questioning its authenticity. He put that document in there.”
The lawyer also pointed out that it was Raja Ram; an Executive Member of NBS, who said that signature of Bibi Khan on the Power of Attorney, was not different from the signature on the Index card.
The lawyer stated, too, that the witness had also admitted to this in the Magistrates’ Court.
The defence, Luckhoo said, brought no evidence from Khan, (herself) that the signatures on Power of Attorney were forged or no hand writing experts to say any such thing.
Instead, he underlined that it was the “Big Chief,” of the Financial Institution that told the court that he saw no difference; the signatures on the two documents were identical.
He almost fell out of the witness box
Luchkoo also pointed to one instance in which the Director of NBS, Seepaul Narine, was presented with documents in support of the authenticity of the document.
“He almost fell out of the witness box,” Luckhoo noted.
At that hearing, the defence had questioned the legitimacy of the Power of Attorney which was presented to bank managers for withdrawal of monies from the account of Bibi Khan.
Narine said that at the time of the decision to dismiss Arjoon, the board had a feeling that the Power of Attorney produced to the bank was not genuine.
He specifically noted that the board was suspicious that the signature of the consular officer in Canada “T. Ramroop,” contained in the document, was false.
The witness nonetheless stated that he could not recall whether the board had found otherwise.
At that point, the witness had appeared a bit stunned. He told the court that he could not say whether the Board had the document when they came to their decision, but he doesn’t believe that the Board would have consented to judgment if the members were aware of the information.
Callous and reckless
Luckhoo noted that given the submissions in the case so far, there is nothing to suggest that the NBS suffered any loss when Arjoon was dismissed in August, 2007.
Yet in November 2007, Luckhoo stressed NBS consented judgment to Bibi Khan despite the fact that signature on NBS Index cards matched the signature on the Power of Attorney.
The lawyer therefore concluded that there must have been some conspiracy between the board at NBS and Bibi Khan.
Another instance of alleged recklessness by members of the hierarchy of the institution, Luckhoo said is when one of its members left the society and confided with another organisation about the alleged fraud.
That person, Luckhoo said, later got promoted to the post as CEO of the Institution after Arjoon was dismissed.
“See how the Society operates?” he asked
“The (defence) case is nothing but a comedy of dishonest errors,” he added.
Given the circumstances, the lawyer requested that the court grant judgment to the plaintiff.
As such, the matter was adjourned to November 29 for a ruling.
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Interestingly justice is about to be served