Mortgage lender, New Building Society (NBS), which late last month was ordered by the High Court to shell out that $70M to its former Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Maurice Arjoon, is refusing to pay up.
The entity, through its lawyer, Ashton Chase, has within the last few days, instead, issued a Notice of Appeal, in a move that signaled Arjoon’s battle with that institution is far from over.
Nine years have passed since the former CEO, and two of his managers, Kent Vincent and Kissoon Baldeo, were all arrested and charged with stealing over $60M.
However, the men were exonerated and an independent Ombudsman investigation raised worrying questions why Arjoon and the managers were ever charged in the first place.
Arjoon filed a High Court case seeking damages in excess of $500M and his pension and other benefits.
After the matter dragged on for more than six years, Judge Brassington Reynolds in a decision last month awarded $79M in lost pension and other benefits. There were no awards for damages.
Arjoon had long claimed that he and his managers were set up and charged, at the direction of former President Bharrat Jagdeo, after he refused to sink almost $2B of NBS money in the construction of the Berbice River Bridge.
The CEO claimed that the lending of NBS money in that manner would have been highly illegal, breaching financial laws.
NBS later still went ahead, after the men were sacked, and purchased shares in the Berbice River Bridge.
Yesterday, it was clear that the Arjoon family was frustrated by the refusal of NBS to pay the lost pension and benefits.
Acknowledging that the mortgage company has signaled its intentions to appeal the judgment, Arjoon and his family in a statement shared on social media, that NBS had provided no acceptable reason why he was dismissed, and no objection on the pension claim, during the High Court case.
“I was therefore very surprised when the judge “awarded” my pension due for the past 10 years and unpaid salary, but none of the $550M in damages and consequently, it is my opinion that I won the battle but NBS won the war.”
Arjoon said that he decided to accept the esteemed judge’s ruling and expected that NBS would have done likewise. He “thanked God that this would finally be over and my family and I could finally move on after such an ordeal lasting over a decade.”
However, the move by NBS to appeal the pension and other benefits he was entitled to came as a huge surprise.
“Now I am extremely flabbergasted that the NBS has appealed the judge’s decision. My pension rights can only be denied if I am involved in fraud, and it was known by the (then) Board, even before I was wrongfully charged with the two managers, that we were never involved in any fraud.”
Arjoon pointed out that his innocence was also proven during the NBS internal and external as well as Bank of Guyana investigations since 2007, and subsequently confirmed in court in 2010, and then by the late Ombudsman in 2014.
NO FRAUD HERE
“A Director (David Yhann) who has since resigned also stated publicly in 2012 in a letter to the media that the board was aware that the two managers and I were not involved in fraud but that it was the DPP (Shalimar Ali-Hack) who said there was compelling evidence (the DPP never provided any during the 4 ½ years in court).”
The former executive insisted that the Board of Directors of NBS is also aware that he has an exemplary three decades’ record with the institution with never even a warning letter.
“…and I subscribed to a pension scheme for three decades to be paid pension at age 60, yet I was illegally dismissed six months before retirement. My pension rights have therefore been illegally denied from the inception 10 years ago; a blatant violation of the Terminations and Severance Pay Act (TESPA) which is continuing with the non-payment to date!”
Arjoon said that his retirement benefits are also due to be paid by NBS as was done with his predecessors, in addition to three months paid retirement leave.
However, the officials said NBS failed.
“Further. on the morning of June 1, 2007 prior to the charge, the two managers and I were called to a meeting with the board and we were told that the police said they had evidence against us and a commitment was made by the Board to pay our salary and benefits until the conclusion of the case, and to also repay all legal fees incurred. Days later, our salary and benefits were taken away without any reason provided.”
The former CEO said that during the High Court trial, it was also proven, without a doubt, that he was illegally dismissed by the then Board, contrary to the stipulations of TESPA, as well as Rule 49 of the NBS Act.
“The latter stipulates that the Board must obtain a resolution from the NBS members before I can be dismissed, which was never done. Documented evidence tendered in court revealed all relative withdrawal documents including the Power of Attorney, signatures of Bibi S. Khan etc., were in order, and confirmation that all procedures met.”
Arjoon said that what was even stranger was that despite no fraud being proven, NBS used its monies to pay a member who claimed to have lost monies from an account.
“Shouldn’t the NBS stop the continuation of its abuse of power and violation of laws and now abide by the esteemed Judge’s ruling and pay as stipulated?”
He said that with the outcome of this case and previously that of the wrongful charge and the Ombudsman’s findings, it is his hope that civil society as well as the Private Sector Commission, the Bankers Association, the Bar Association and other relevant organisations will speak out against the perpetrators of “heinous crimes” against the two former managers, Kent Vincent and Kissoon Baldeo, and himself, in an effort at also ensuring there is never any repetition of injustice and abuse of power.
Back in 2007, Arjoon was accused of conspiracy to defraud the NBS of $69M along with Baldeo and Vincent. The latter two said they suffered irreparable harm from the negative publicity and losses of salaries and benefits.
At the time of the charges in 2007, chairing the Board of NBS was Dr. Nanda Gopaul. He later became a Permanent Secretary in the Office of the President, under the Jagdeo administration and then the Minister of Labour. Also sitting on the board then was union leader, Seepaul Narine.
The NBS board is currently chaired by Floyd McDonald, a former Commissioner of Police.
Aug 24, 2017BASSETERRE, St Kitts, CMC – Bhaskar Yadram 6-16, Raymond Perez 52 not out and Kevelon Anderson 51 not out were the men on song as Guyana defeated the Leeward Islands by eight wickets in their...
Aug 24, 2017
Aug 24, 2017
Aug 24, 2017
Aug 24, 2017
Aug 24, 2017
There is a situation with the diaspora members who come back and offer their service. They let you know that they have expectations... more
By Sir Ronald Sanders On August 14 and 15, Pakistan and India, respectively, celebrated the 70th anniversary of their Sir... more
Editor’s Note, If your sent letter was not published and you felt its contents were valid and devoid of libel or personal attacks, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]