FDH Bank Limited on Tuesday expressed shock at the action by the Sheriff of Malawi to seize office equipment from its Umoyo House Branch in Blantyre to enforce payment of K784 830 909.16 (about $1.2million) due to Maranatha Girls Academy Limited.
Business ground to a halt at the branch as sheriffs enforced a High Court ruling of April 4 2015 that ordered FDH Bank Limited to pay Maranatha Girls Academy Limited the amount as compensation for loss and damage arising from a breach of three months statutory notice by FDH Bank.
But in a statement issued on Tuesday signed by head of marketing Sobhuza Ngwenya, FDH Bank, a subsidiary of FDH Financial Holdings Limited, expressed surprise at the whole matter, especially noting that the bank was not allowed time to look at the judgement and take appropriate decision before the sheriffs could seize its property, all in a period of less than 24 hours.
Reads the statement: “FDH Bank lawyers received the judgement on the afternoon of 4 April 2016. They gave the judgement to FDH Bank [management] in the morning of 5 April 2016 at around 9 am.
“The bank lawyers immediately tried to get a stay order on the judgement on the same afternoon 4 April 2016 so that an appeal can be filed with the court. The court instead ordered to hear the stay order arguments at 1: 30 pm on Tuesday 5 April 2016.
“While FDH was waiting for this process, within one hour of receiving the copy of the judgement, the sheriffs had come at around 10: 30am to seize properties.
“FDH Bank immediately prepared the required payment. When FDH wanted to deliver the payment, the people who seized the properties for FDH were nowhere to be seen.”
The bank also said Maranatha Girls Academy Limited owes FDH Bank K281 820 906.47 (about $424 000) which has been outstanding for several years and FDH has been trying to recover the money by selling the provided collateral for the loan.
Ngwenya said FDH Bank cannot recover the debt because the court stopped the process through an injunction still in force.
Court documents show that Maranatha Girls Academy Limited sought declarations on a matter regarding a notice of intention to sell the applicant’s property Title Number South Lunzu 7/45 (Maranatha Girls Academy Limited) advertised in the newspapers on September 17 2013, which the court found to be wrongful and flouting Section 68 of the Registered Land Act.
The court ordered that the registrar should assess general damages arising from the wrong.
In an interview yesterday, Judiciary spokesperson Mlenga Mvula said the seizure of computers by the Sherriff of Malawi was in respect to the ruling, which the FDH Bank had failed to honour.
He said the ruling was made last April but the execution order was issued on April 4 2016. n