BancABC escapes dramatic raid, as bailiffs hit its headquarters

HARARE - Listed banking group BancABC was yesterday thrown into a “mini drama” after the Harare Messenger of Court raided its Mount Pleasant headquarters over a $10 million dispute with Mackie Diamonds BVBA (Mackie).

Although the retail group has no business relationship whatsoever with the Belgian-based company, it was struck with a surprise writ of execution after a debt wrangle with Lebanese businessman and client Jamal Joseph Hamed, who is in turn linked to the foreign-based firm.

Armed with a peculiar judgment from High Court Justice George Chiweshe — the country’s judge president — bailiffs and Mackie’s lawyers Venturas, and Samukange tried to seize cars, and other property, in an ordeal lasting over four hours on Wednesday afternoon.

“The respondent (ABC Bank Limited) be and is hereby directed to transfer to the applicant the sum of ZAR 86 986 075,44 by close of business on Saturday February 9, 2013,” read the Friday ruling, adding “the operation of this order shall not be suspended by the noting of an appeal to the Supreme Court”.

While the defendants’ lawyer Stephen Zvinavakobvu of Mutamangira & Associates contends the ruling was defective on two fundamental grounds — of fact and the law — the hawkish raid also came even after BancABC had won a Monday stay of execution in the superior court.

Apart from taking away the respondent’s right to appeal, Chiweshe’s judgment was also notable — for a commercial dispute — in that it was held in camera and the courts ruled out an option for appeal without the appellant asking for it. On the other hand, the Harare executions were almost effected without the requisite 48-hour notice to the respondents.

Earlier, BancABC principals including managing director Hashmon Matemera had been served with papers to appear in court 30 minutes before a High Court appearance at midday on Friday.

While the issue has also sucked in another diamond trader and miner Anjin Investments, it is understood the dispute arose from a loan extended to Hamed for the purchase of Marange gems from the Chinese-Zimbabwean army-owned company.

And after a follow-up on its monies, BancABC has found itself on the other end of Mackie’s wrath — and which company also says it had given the Lebanese businessman some cash. Hamed also owns Premier Diamonds.

As the matter is due to be heard in the Supreme Court today, the bank’s senior managers declined to comment yesterday and referred all issues to their attorneys.

However, the issue offers a glimpse into the flow of diamond money in Zimbabwe.

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