Unravelling BancABC's legal tribulations

HARARE - Financial group BancABC may have been able to stave off a potentially-explosive situation by paying off Belgium diamond dealer Mackie Diamonds BVBA (Mackie), but events leading up to its Wednesday nightmare could very well leave a bitter taste in the mouth.

As information filtering through indicates that bank executives were barely given 30 minutes to respond to the Jamal Joseph Hamed-led company’s February 6th High Court application, it has also emerged that the bank endured its mid-week pain – after bailiffs pounced on its Harare headquarters – without even proper knowledge of legal outcomes preceding the hawkish raids.

“At that time (early February), the bank was served with an application at 11:25AM and together with a set-down notice that the matter would be heard by the judge president (George Chiweshe) at 12:00PM on the same day,” insiders told the Daily News yesterday.

“Despite the representations made on the time constraints then and need to review documents, the judge indicated that he was only amenable to granting the bank’s lawyers a maximum of 30 minutes to go through Mackie’s papers,” they said, adding a major source of disquiet and grumbling would remain that the applicants were never given enough time to prepare themselves for the litigation.

Even, though, BancABC had won a temporary relief through a February 08 postponement, the institution found itself in a puzzle of sorts after the courts declared that the matter would be heard in camera, yet this was an ordinary urgent chamber application.

While court procedure dictates that an application has to be made for such a process or hearing, it transpires that no such request had been made and a Belgian advocate was allegedly allowed to argue on Mackie’s behalf despite the legal restrictions or implications of that.

“Broadly, the February 08 order is not only disquieting in so far as it supposedly nullified any potential appeals by the bank, but that it sought to make BancABC transfer the money on a non-business day, which was a Saturday,” the source added.

As if the closure of the appeals window was not enough, the five-tier banking group was slapped with costs – meaning Chiweshe’s judgement was final.

And as the Mackie-BancABC saga rages on, it also transpires that Hamed’s firm was claiming funds, which had been transferred into Anjin Investments – an interposition the banks says was highly defective and faulty.

“From the papers adduced in court, it was not only established that the Lebanese businessman owes the bank $13,4 million, but there was no probity in his moves to conceal his role in this whole saga and, therefore, evade the indebtedness issue.” - Staff Writer

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