Attorney–at–law Devindra Kissoon yesterday called into question the $550M claim made by former New Building Society Manager, Kent Vincent, in the wrongful dismissal lawsuit.
Vincent, the Chief Executive Officer attached to Food for the Poor Guyana Inc., is leading the second lawsuit against the Society for wrongful termination.
NBS had faced a similar lawsuit filed by its former Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Maurice Arjoon. The High Court ruled in favour of Arjoon, who had claimed that he and two his Managers (Vincent and Kissoon Baldeo) were set up and charged.
The trio had faced charges of conspiracy to defraud the NBS of $69M, back in 2007. The sum was allegedly withdrawn from an account belonging to a customer, Bibi Khan, using unverified bogus documents. Arjoon had contended that the charges were trumped up.
Citing irreparable harm from the negative publicity and loss of salaries and benefits, Arjoon and Vincent moved to the High Court to seek redress.
In separate lawsuits, the former CEO and the former Manager each claimed $550 million in damages from NBS for the wrongful dismissal.
Vincent returned to the witness stand in the courtroom of Chief Justice (Ag) Roxane George as he faced further cross-examination in the continuation of second trial, yesterday.
During the cross-examination, the attorney referenced several documents previously tendered as evidence in the trial. Included in the reference pile was the employment contract, which Vincent signed with the Society.
“Do you recognise the document that you hold in your hand?”
“Yes I do.”
“Is that the contract you signed?” And you agreed to the terms of that contract?”
“Yes sir, that is correct.”
“You would have agreed to honestly and diligently comply with the rules of NBS?”
“Yes sir, that is correct.”
The lawyer then asked the Plaintiff to give the court a breakdown of salary, benefits and allowances that he was entitled to as an employee of the lending institution. He told the Court that the questions formed the basis of ascertaining how the Plaintiff arrived at a claim of $550M for his alleged wrongful termination.
Kissoon specifically pointed out that the salary, benefits, allowances and pension combined could not amount to the multimillion-dollar claim.
Alluding to the facts provided in the case, the lawyer noted that Mr. Vincent’s salary and allowances, which included the monthly pay in addition to uniform, housing, entertainment, electricity, vacation allowances and a yearly bonus combined, would only amount to roughly $5M per year.
He suggested the calculation to the witness, who said that he could not be sure that is accurate.
The lawyer suggested further to Vincent that given the terms of the agreement, he signed with NBS, in the scenario of termination from duty, the most he would be entitled to, is three months’ salary, which would have been about $1,725,000 back in 2007.
Again, the Plaintiff replied that he was not certain.
The lawyer later asked the witness if he knew what his benefits would have been had he left the Society.
The line of questioning met with objections from Vincent’s Attorney, Robin Stoby S.C.
Stoby described the question as hypothetical and unfair.
Chief Justice George found Stoby’s objection to be fair, given the fact that Mr. Vincent had not voluntarily left the institution but was fired. She gestured the attorney to move on from the question.
The attorney therefore went on to ask the witness about his familiarity of the NBS pension scheme.
“The NBS pension scheme is governed by rules?
“Yes sir,” replied Vincent, admitting that he has very little knowledge of the rule.
Asked to give a breakdown of his contribution to the scheme, Vincent told court that during his 13 years of employment at NBS, a monthly deduction was remitted to the scheme.
According to the witness, the deductions amounted to 6 percent and his then employer would double that, making it 12 percent.
The former Manager said, however, that he could put a figure to his employer’s contribution to the scheme.
“I cannot say for sure what that figure would be.”
The witness was later questioned about his familiarity with the institution’s system manual, as it relates withdrawals.
He agreed that two senior officials had to approve the withdrawal.
“You are saying that the relevant documents must be forwarded for approval by senior officials before a transaction?”
“Yes that is correct!”
“So, someone could not walk into NBS with the photocopy of an ID card for the purpose of transaction?” asked the lawyer before his question was met with objections from the court.
“What is the relevance of the question in this trial?” asked the Chief Justice.
“The relevance is in relation to authenticity of the document used in the transaction,” Kissoon responded
“But there is nothing in this case about a photocopied document … only stick to the relevance Mr. Kissoon,” cautioned the Chief Justice, just before the matter was adjourned.
The trial is expected to continue at the High Court today at 1:30 pm.
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