Appeal Court orders NBS to pay $59m in pension to Maurice Arjoon

Maurice Arjoon

Justice of Appeal, Rishi Persaud, yesterday ordered the New Building Society (NBS) to pay over to dismissed manager, Maurice Arjoon, the more than $59M in pension owed to him.

Of the $79,282,801 awarded to Arjoon earlier this year by High Court judge, Brassington Reynolds, for severance and other benefits, Justice Persaud has ordered that he be paid pension to the tune of $59,033,000.

The court has, however, stayed the remaining $20,249,801 which was awarded to the sacked manager for severance.

Following Justice Reynolds’ ruling, NBS had challenged the award granted to Arjoon.

The bank appealed the judgment, citing more than a dozen grounds, including that it was erroneous and that pension could not be awarded together with severance and other benefits, when an employee is terminated or dismissed.

It had expressed confidence that its appeal was on “sound grounds,” but also said that if perchance it loses, it will honour the judgment to be finally given in Arjoon’s favour.

Justice Reynolds had awarded Arjoon the total of $79,282,801 after ruling that he was entitled to recover all benefits that were lost as a result of the dismissal.

Arjoon and two others were dismissed in June, 2007 following the disappearance of $69 million from the NBS account of Bibi Khan.

That ruling was handed down on July 17, after Justice Reynolds found that Arjoon had been wrongfully dismissed.

Among its grounds for appeal, the NBS had argued, that on the basis of the trial judge’s conclusion that Arjoon was “wrongfully dismissed,” he was not entitled to severance pay by virtue of his status and contracts and according to the Termination of Employment and Severance Pay Act.

It said too, that pension, which the court also awarded, could not be granted in conjunction with severance or any other benefit related to termination or dismissal, and that the judge did not give due attention to the relevant parts affecting Arjoon’s conduct in the NBS rules, the systems manual, the pension rules and the contract signed by him.

Additionally, the NBS had advanced that the overriding defaults in the respondent’s dealing with the withdrawals from the account of Khan were not taken into account by the judge nor did he consider that the person making the withdrawals from the account was not duly and properly authorised to do so, thereby causing NBS a loss of over $79 million.

In his judgment, Justice Reynolds had said that the court found no evidence to substantiate 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 which Arjoon was guilty of breaching.

The bank was represented by Senior Counsel Ashton Chase and attorney Pauline Chase.

Arjoon, meanwhile, was represented by Edward Luckhoo SC, in association with attorneys Sanjeev Datadin, Ganesh Hira and Siand Dhurjon.

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