22 November 2017

Liberia: George Haddad U.S.$10 Million Debt Case Re-Assigned for December 2017

Monrovia — Judge Eva Morgan of the Commercial Court at the Temple of Justice has re-assigned hearing into the US$10.7 million debt case for Friday, December 1, 2017 amid plea by state lawyers of government's un-readiness to proceed with the trial.

The case was filed by businessman George Haddad against the Government of Liberia.

State lawyer, Cllr. Joseph Fayiah, at the call of the case Tuesday, November 21, at 10 a.m. pleaded with the court for continuance (time) to enable state lawyers to review the case files and consult the relevant government authorities including the Minister of Finance & Development Planning.

Presiding Judge Morgan rejected the plea from the state lawyer to suspend the case, however, following consultations with the parties in chamber, she reassigned the case to next Friday, December 1, and advised all parties to take note of the new assigned date for the hearing of the case.

Earlier, lawyers representing the Alliance and Prestige Motors owned by the Lebanese businessman, vehemently opposed the request to suspend the case and said it is done in bad faith intended to baffle the case.

"The continuous request by state prosecutors to shelve the trial was intended to frustrate and deny the companies justice in keeping with the law," said Cllr. Moses Paegar, lead lawyer for the Alliance and Prestige Companies.

The Alliance and Prestige Motors, representing American and German auto dealers in Monrovia, had sued the Government of Liberia for allegedly refusing to pay for vehicles and spare parts supplied the government in 2003 and up to March 2008.

The action of damage for wrong by businessman Haddad against the Government of Liberia was first filed at the Commercial Court in 2014.

The case was first heard in 2015 by the Commercial Court where state lawyers filed a motion and questioned whether the Commercial Court had the legal authority over the matter, which occurred between 2003-2008 when the court was established in 2011.

Alliance and Prestige Motors lawyers debunked the state lawyers' claims that though the Commercial Court was established in 2011 by an Act of the National Legislature as a specialized court to adjudicate cases arising of commercial transactions nevertheless when the transaction occurred.

Commercial Court Judge Morgan denied the state lawyers' motion on ground that the court was established for all cases arising from commercial transactions.

According to lawyers representing the companies, the US$10.7 million vehicles and spare parts supply has since accumulated huge interest due to the alleged failure by the current Government of Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to pay in the last 10 years of her administration.

The lawyers representing the companies have argued in court that the debt case has generated huge interest in the international community, especially the German and American companies, which have supplied the vehicles and spare parts to the Alliance and Prestige Motors in Monrovia.

Also the companies' lawyers argued that the Ellen Administration has not denied the debt claim but accused the presidency of baffling the case with the intend to pass on the financial burden to the next leadership of the country.

The Alliance and Prestige Motors lawsuit for damage against the government is being made at the time when the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had assisted the Liberian Government under its Extended Credit Facility (ECF) program with yet another US$20.7 million intended to settle domestic debts.

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