Ghana: Court Stops Gang of Four

Four Former trustees and a former administrator of the Ghana Heart Foundation Trust, who are seeking to maintain their position in the Trust, were yesterday slapped with a restraining order by an Accra Fast Track High Court, after the Foundation accused them of breaching its rules.

The court, presided over by Justice Ofori-Atta, ordered Dr. Kwabena Duffuor, former Minister of Finance and Former Chairman of the Trust, Prof. Samuel Kwadwo Owusu, Former Vice-Chairman of the trust, Mrs. Henrietta Abban, Justice of the Court of Appeal and Former Secretary to the Trust and Mr. Herbert Andoh Morrison, Chartered Accountant and Former Member of the Trust from putting up themselves as trustees of the Ghana Heart Foundation Trust, until the final determination of a suit filed, challenging their capacities in the establishment.

The court further restrained Anastacia Himans from holding herself out as administrator of the Trust until further determination of a suit filed challenging her capacity in the Trust.

The defendants, who are nicknamed the 'Gang-of-Four plus One', were additionally restrained from conducting any business in the name of the Ghana Heart Foundation or interfering in its activities until the final determination of the suit before the court.

Granting the restraining order on the request of the Ghana Heart Foundation, the court noted that the plaintiff by its document, as well as arguments advance before the court by its counsel, Mr. Kyei-Baffour, had made out a case for the defendants to be restrained.

Arguing his motion in court, Mr. Kyei-Baffour requested the court to place an injunction on the "Gang of 4 plus 1" following the confusions their activities are portraying in the minds of the Ghanaian beneficiaries of the Trust.

According to counsel, defendants were recruited to manage the Trust Fund of the Ghana Heart Foundation and not the Foundation itself for specified period of three years subject to reappointment.

Mr. Kyei-Baffour told the court that defendants have failed to retire from their respective position, creating confusion in the minds of beneficiaries and further crippling the activities of the Foundation.

Counsel further informed the court that the defendants are by their actions attempting to take over the plaintiff, as they had incorporated another Ghana Heart Foundation, bearing the same name with the same objectives, a year after they were recruited to work for the plaintiff, and in the process of appointing a board of trustees.

This, counsel noted, has created confusion in the minds of the people, adding that by the actions of the defendants, they have placed themselves in conflict positions for setting up a competing Foundation and still benefiting from the good works of the plaintiff.

Counsel for the defendants, Mr. Menka-Premo, however, asked the court to dismiss the application and strike out the entire suit as unmeritorious.

According to counsel, Executive Council Members of the Ghana Heart Foundation had indicated through a communication that it had not authorized any court action, noting "it is one man who is using the Foundation to further his own agenda.

Counsel further pointed out that the plaintiff has no capacity to institute legal action against his clients, as he justified the creation of another Ghana Heart Foundation by the defendants.

He, therefore, questioned why the Foundation should set up a Trust with a specific name and now comes to prevent its trustees from using the name chosen.

The plaintiff is jointly and severally seeking a declaration of the court that by Section 15 of the Trust Deed of the Ghana Heart Foundation Trust, the Executive Council of the plaintiff has the power to remove or retire the defendant Trustees as managing trustees of the Trust and indeed ceased to be Trustees.

Plaintiff is further seeking a declaration that Anastasia Himans, by her letter of termination, ceased to be the Administrator of the Foundation.

It is also demanding that the embattled trustees of the Trust account for the operation and management of the Trust Fund from 2006 till May 2012, and also for all the defendants to hand over all assets of the Ghana Heart Foundation and the Trust in their possession.

Upon the establishment of the Trust on January 16, 1998, the Ghana Heart Foundation through a Trust Deed appointed the defendants as its first Managing Trustees of the fund for a-three-year-term, ending January 15, 2001.

The four trustees, continued to work for the Trust Fund without the express re-appointment by the Foundation, as plaintiff was finding avenues to appoint new persons as Trustees to the Trust Fund.

As a result, the Foundation, in a letter dated August 24, 2010, and addressed to the four Trustees, notified them of its intention among others to appoint new Managing Trustees and a further letter written through the President of the Foundation, Prof. Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, requested the Trustees to render accounts, which had since 2006 not been submitted.

Following the letters directed to the Trustees, Dr. Kwabena Duffour, Chairman of the Trust, in a response dated September 9, 2012, the trustees were only accountable to the general public and not the Ghana Heart Foundation.

This, the plaintiff indicated, was contrary to spirit of the Trust Deed that appointed the Trustees. The Trustees further indicated their intention to submit the audited account of the Trust by December 31, 2010, but failed to do so despite repeated assurances.

The Trustees, were by a letter dated March 30, 2011, given an extension of time by the Executive Council of the Foundation by 30 days, to enable them submit the accounts of the Trust, but failed to account for their stewardship.

Plaintiff further reminded the Trustees by a letter dated March 24, 2012, of their over-stay in office and impressed upon them not to delay in retiring and handing over to the Executive Council of the Foundation.

The plaintiff noted that its resolve to retire the Trustees was as a result of their failure and refusal to call for an Annual General Meeting and to render accounts of the Trust since 2004.

The Foundation further terminated the appointment of the Administrator on May 28, 2011 as part of restructuring activities and requested her to handover all items of the Foundation in her possession but she refused and failed to comply with the directive.

The plaintiff pointed out that after the removal of the Trustees as Managing Trustees, all institutions, including banks, partners and donors of the trust and Foundation and since then, it has appointed new Managing Trustees and forwarded their names and signatories to the banks of the Trust.

The defendants, even after their removal from office, continued to have in their possession, the assets of the Trust and Foundation in spite of several reminders to handover.

They further acted as Managing Trustee of the Trust and Administrator respectively and by a letter dated June 11, 2012 invited the President of the plaintiff to an Annual General Meeting on July 3, 2012.

Plaintiff noted that the defendants by their actions are usurping the powers of the Foundation and giving false information that they are still in office as they published in the Daily Graphic Newspaper on June 26, 2012, announcing and inviting the general public to an Annual General Meeting.

Plaintiff has, therefore, stated categorically that it did not sanction the former trustees to organise the said meeting of the Trust since they are not members of the Foundation.

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