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I wish to react in the exercise of my right to be heard by way of rejoinder to an article carried in ‘The New Crusading Guide’ edition of Tuesday, June 16, 2020 edition) entitled “CID Investigates Republic Bank’s Board Chair…over Stealing And Fraudulent Dealings With Merlin-Games”. Prior to publishing this story in your newspaper, you neither contacted me nor sought in any way to elicit my response to the alleged facts forming the basis of your report, all of which are entirely and totally false, malicious and vindictive.
I wish to state by way of response as follows:
1 – I am a lawyer by profession and in full-time practice as the Head of Chambers of my law firm, Gaisie Zwennes Hughes & Co. The matters that you report about strictly relate to and concern my professional services as a lawyer and statutory officer of our client company, Merlin Gaming Ghana Limited, and they have absolutely no relationship with, or connection to The Republic Bank Ghana Limited, which happens to be a bank that I Chair the board of directors of purely in a non-executive capacity. Your intentional identification therefore of me in your article heading and throughout your story as “Republic Bank’s Board Chair”, smacks of clear mischief, and merely betrays a scurrilous intention on the part of your story-tellers to unduly scandalise me in the public domain in order to cause reputational damage to my good name. I remain however firm in my conviction that any such damage to my reputation can only be achieved if your reports are founded on truth, rather than on the back of inventive lies of others and their bearing of false witness.
From a wider standpoint, I also remain firm in my conviction as a lawyer, that the professional calling of “barrister-at-law” still holds true to some of us as an honourable professional calling. We shall continue to remain courageous and unshaken in our conviction that the rendering of our services as lawyers in the protection of the rights of the aggrieved and the downtrodden. We simply will never allow our hard-earned reputations to be held to ransom by random, reckless vilification from the mercenary reportage of irresponsible journalism. I hereby insist on my right of reply in order to ensure that journalistic mudslinging does not become some new sort of occupational hazard to the profession of lawyers in this good country. In stating this, I note that the author of your published article has quite tellingly chosen to withhold his name, which is no doubt in a vain attempt on his part to hide his true identity. I do also note that the style of writing betrays a more tutored hand in the authorship of your article, which leads me to ask who the true author of this article is.
2 – CID Investigations – In answer to the first accusation levelled at me, I have not been invited by the CID of the Ghana Police Service to assist in the investigation of any complaint lodged against me for stealing, for fraud, or for the commission of any offence, for that matter. Quite to the contrary, my firm and I lodged a complaint against Frank Tachie-Menson, as far back as last year, on 18th December 2019. You would be interested to know that the particulars of that complaint were that the said Frank Tachie-Menson had committed various acts of forgery with intent to defraud, forgery of official public documents, uttering false oaths, fraud and extortion against the company.
The company has also sued Tachie-Menson for recovery of those monies obtained by him through acts of extortion. If indeed any counter-accusations have been made by the petitioners against me to the CID, they have been made out of embarrassment and a vain attempt to invite a trial by media of these matters which are already properly before the Police Service and the Courts. The said complaint that I made on behalf of my clients was lodged at the Visa Fraud & Official Documents at the CID Headquarters. Frank Tachie-Menson has been invited for questioning several times since that complaint and has made statements in answer to the allegations against him of falsely gaining access to the registry of companies at the Registrar General’s Department, Accra, to falsely enter his name as a shareholder and director on the company incorporation documents of Merlin Gaming Ghana Limited.
Mr. Frank Tachie-Menson happens to carry the unenviable credentials which include being a three-time undischarged bankrupt and fugitive from the United States of America. Phillip Addison, a senior and well-known lawyer in active practice in Ghana Bar, is the lawyer for Frank Tachie-Menson and has aided him ever since it came to the notice of his client, that through the work of my law firm and I in a lawsuit acting for Merlin since 2013, a court settlement sum of ¢15,000,000.00 was about to paid out to the company by National Lottery Authority (NLA) for breach of contract.
Since that time, Mr Phillip Addison has also falsely held himself out as the Company Secretary despite not having any lawful authority to do so. As a result, Mr Phillip Addison has been sued by Eric Gbeho (shareholder promotor) in a civil action for doing so. Currently, based on our application to the court, Mr Phillip Addison has been restrained by an Order of Injunction pretending to be its Company Secretary, or from attempting to withdraw any monies from its bank accounts until a final determination of the suit. It is not true, as your story claims, that I have been restrained by any such application.
3 – Merlin’s false signatories – Mr Phillip Addison has been reported by the company’s bankers of having presented to them minutes of a board meeting purportedly held on 19th December 2018. In fact, no board meeting ever took place on that date. Mr Addison is also reported by the company’s bankers as having presented to them a Board Resolution (signed by his client Mr Frank Tachie-Menson alone) purporting to have made him the company’s Company Secretary. The company’s bankers have also reported that in that Board Resolution of 19th December 2018 which Mr Phillip Addison relies on as proof of his appointment, he himself signed same as the Company Secretary, and not his predecessor, who legally, is the proper person to have signed (as outgoing Secretary) any Board Resolution there might have been to his appointment as incoming Company Secretary. Since the case suing him in June 2019, Mr Addison has not been able to answer the case by presenting any facts. Around the time of the receiving of candidacy applications for the Akwapim North Constituency of the NPP, this case against Mr Addison, stopping him from holding himself out as Company Secretary and as the mandated signatory to its bank accounts, was hotly contested and litigated in the High Court, Accra, between myself as counsel for my client and Mr Addison as a defendant to that case. Our action continues to accuse Mr Addison as being a complete stranger to the company.
4 – Stolen Money – Thirdly, the allegation that I have stolen any company money is totally false. Neither myself nor Mr. Eric Gbeho have ever dishonestly misappropriated or used company funds of Merlin for our own benefit. The truth is that upon properly calling and convening a meeting, accounts of the company were duly presented by the external auditors to the directors in attendance of that meeting. Both Mr. Nkegbe and Mr. Tachie-Menson chose to absent themselves from that meeting despite having been invited to it. The accounts of the company for the years 2016, 2017, and 2018 were fully explained to the directors present, and a resolution to adopt the said accounts was duly tabled and passed by the board.
The amount of ¢1,499,860.85 as shown as an item for the Year Ending December 2016 stand in the accounts as unpaid expenses. Incidentally, my client Mr Gbeho and I were the ones who readily handed over those accounts to Mr Phillip Addison, their lawyer, in the demonstration of our due and proper custodianship of the affairs of the company. The twisted belief of the petitioners to somehow see that item of ¢1,499,860.85 as a paid expenses which have somehow found its way to form part of my personal wealth betrays a (less criminal and more forgiving) shortcoming on their part to properly read, understand, and interpret business account statements of a company. The true fact is that that money has not been paid out to anyone, and the company’s bank statement would attest to this fact.
5 – My appointment as bank account signatory – Fourthly, it is completely false to allege that I have not been previously appointed as director and signatory to the company’s bank accounts. Since inception of the company up until Lawyer Phillip Addison purported without lawful authority to falsely present himself to the company’s bankers to have him entered as signatory to its bank accounts, I have signed several cheques made out in favour of Frank Tachie-Menson and Peter Nkegbe. Both these petitioners on every single occasion readily collected, cashed and used the said funds for their personal benefit. The record of the bank accounts of the company will show this, and therefore the best construction that one can possibly put on their false allegations would be that they suffer from a poor recollection of real past occurrences and events. At the appropriate time, the records and cheque stubs of the company’s cheque books will prove these facts as stated, and will serve to vindicate my client and I against these scurrilous attacks.
5 – Poor recollection of past events – Today, Peter Nkegbe has clearly forgotten that he sued his co-petitioner Mr Frank Tachie-Menson some 6 years ago on 28th August 2014, in respect of this same company and its shares, claiming that the shares Mr Tachie-Menson now claims were not his. That case of Mr Nkegbe against Frank Tachie-Menson is still pending before the High Court of Justice, Accra. I refer here to the case of PETER NKEGBE –V- FRANK MENSON & 2 OTHERS (SUIT NO. AC1042/14). In a 64-paragraph statement of claim prepared by Mr Nkegbe himself in that action, he averred to facts (on that occasion) to the effect that Mr Frank Tachie-Menson had unlawfully sought to unlawfully acquire shares of Merlin as his own property. That action is still pending, and it is unclear precisely when and why Mr. Nkegbe and Mr Frank Tachie-Menson now report to have signed a petition as bedfellows. In due course, it will be established that the two petitioners of your story have lent themselves to dishonest plots of certain persons who hide behind the cloak of professional tags and false reputations to line their pockets.
In the defence of my clients’ interests against the petitioners, I have received verbal abuse, and threats to my wellbeing and to that of my family from close associates and live-in cohorts of theirs. I continue to render my services to my clients undaunted with courage and without fear, and will see to the laws of Ghana taking their course, and for justice to be served.
Charles William Zwennes Esq.
Lawyer for Merlin Gaming Ghana Limited Lawyer for Mr. Eric Gbeho.