Court awards Maurice Arjoon $79.2m

-after finding of wrongful dismissal

Wrongfully dismissed New Building Society (NBS) Manager Maurice Arjoon, was yesterday awarded just over $79M, which the Society owes him for loss of earnings, severance and pension benefits plus interest.

In his suit against the bank for wrongful dismissal, Justice Brassington Reynolds on Monday ruled in Arjoon’s favour, and found that he is entitled to recover all benefits that were lost as a result of the dismissal.

Following the court’s computation from estimates submitted by Arjoon’s lawyers, Senior Counsel Edward Luckhoo and attorney for the bank, Senior Counsel Ashton Chase, a total of $79,282,801 was yesterday awarded to Arjoon. 

The court also ordered an award of interest on the sum of $20, 249,520 at 6% per annum from June 30, 2007 when Arjoon was dismissed, until the date of judgment, and thereafter at a rate of 4% per annum until he has been fully paid.

Maurice Arjoon

The court ordered that the former manager be paid $4, 144,797 in lieu of notice for three months while his severance benefits, in accordance with the Termination of Employment and Severance Pay Act (TESPA) amounted to $16,104,723.

Additionally, his pension benefits calculated up to June 30, 2017 stood at $59,033,281 resulting altogether, in an award of $79,282,801.

Arjoon’s pension is to attract interest at a rate of 6% per annum from March 1, 2008 to the date of judgment and thereafter at a rate of 4% per annum until fully paid.

The court also declared that Arjoon be paid a monthly pension of $372,498 from date of judgment, for the rest of his life.

The compensation to be paid in lieu of notice, severance and pension benefits was made against the NBS, who was listed as the first-named defendant.

Meanwhile, the award of pension was made against Trust Company Guyana Limited, Ahmad Khan, Seepaul Narine and Nizam Mohamed in their capacity as custodian and managing trustee of the NBS pension scheme.

Arjoon was represented by Senior Counsel Luckhoo, in association with Eleanor Luckhoo.

In his judgment on Monday, Justice Reynolds, referencing case law and other jurisprudential authorities, said the court found no evidence to substantiate the NBS’s claims that Arjoon committed gross or serious misconduct, warranting his dismissal.

The judge had said that it showed no established rules, standards or procedures stipulated in its manual, which Arjoon was guilty of breaching.

The court noted that by its own admission, NBS, during the trial, acknowledged that there existed poor systemic procedures of adequate checks and balances for detecting gross or serious misconduct, such as that levelled against Arjoon.

The judge pointed out that the NBS highlighted that its systemic procedures were improved only after charges were instituted against Arjoon. The court noted that it was unfair for Arjoon to have been dismissed when the bank had no systems in place to have proved that he was guilty of any wrongdoing.

Justice Reynolds had asserted that such determinations could not be made according to a “Peter pay for Paul and Paul pay for all,” standard.

Upon conclusion of the court’s judgment on Monday, Justice Reynolds ordered NBS to pay costs to Arjoon in the sum of $200,000.

On June 12, 2007, Arjoon and two other managers, Kent Vincent, Operations Manager and Kissoon Baldeo, Assistant Mortgage Manager, had their services terminated after $69 million was discovered missing from the account of Bibi Khan.

Arjoon was interdicted from duty before being dismissed. The trio, along with several other employees of the bank, were charged in the matter but they were later freed after Khan repeatedly failed to attend court hearings.

After the charge against him was thrown out, Arjoon subsequently filed the lawsuit against the society, for wrongful dismissal.

Late Ombudsman Justice Winston Moore had concluded that the three managers suffered a “grave injustice” as he found that there was insufficient evidence to suggest that the trio was guilty, let alone to successfully prosecute them.

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