The New Building Society (NBS) today strongly defended the action taken by its staff yesterday in securing the building when an attempt was made to levy on its assets in relation to a $59m court award to its former CEO Maurice Arjoon.
In a statement, the NBS also vowed to “safeguard” the sum in question, noting that an appeal had been lodged with the court over the matter.
A statement from NBS follows:
The Board of Directors
The New Building Society Limited (NBS) would like to offer clarification on issues surrounding the storming of its Chief Office by unknown individuals, later identified as marshals of the Supreme Court, lawyers and relatives for Mr. Maurice Arjoon, former CEO of the Society.
At around 12.30 p.m. on Tuesday, January 23, 2018, a group of men came to the back entrance of the Society’s Office and opened the door of a Nissan Vehicle, owned by the Society and driven by an employee. They ordered the employee out of the vehicle and forcibly took the keys and took possession of the said vehicle.
At the same time, persons were seen coming out of a vehicle with building breaking equipment outside of the Society’s building perimeter. This caused some panic among employees of the Society who thought that a robbery was about to take place. Several cashiers moved away from their posts and the management quickly took a decision to lock down the entity. Subsequently, members of the Guyana Police Force arrived and management was informed that the persons who took possession of the vehicle and were in and around the Head Office were marshals of the Supreme Court.
In the midst of the commotion and the absence of a court order being produced, the management took a decision to safeguard the cash while giving customers an opportunity to orderly leave the bank through one entrance. The NBS at no time prevented persons from leaving the office and in an effort to ensure the safety of cash, there was some inconvenience.
Given the manner in which this operation was conducted and the absence, even up to this point in time, of the Court Order, it is our view that the management took the right decision to protect the interest of the Society, its staff and customers.
The marshals and others came in unidentified like ‘thieves in the night’ in an unprofessional manner that resulted in the panic, chaos and misunderstanding which took place.
The Society wishes to let it be known that if properly served with any instrument or order of the court, we would readily comply with such an order or instructions.
When our lawyers came to the scene, and in spite of us still not receiving a court order, the Society took the decision to make the payment to Mr. Arjoon. This was from the Society’s funds while we await a refund from the Trust Company (Custodial Trustees) of the Pension Scheme.
The Society wishes to state the following:
- The unprofessional conduct of the Marshals will be communicated to their superiors for an inquiry to be held
- The large presence of police officers, some of whom were armed with high powered rifles, makes it appear that they may have been apparently under the instructions of someone or persons bent on embarrassing the Society
- The further delay and detention of our Security and Managers after the impasse must be viewed with concern as the Security of the premises was left exposed
- On Jan 04, 2018 the Society as well as the other appellants , including Trust Company (Guyana) Limited received a court order directing that the sum of $59,033,281.00 be paid over to Mr. Arjoon representing his pension benefits. This benefit should have been paid from the Pension Scheme funds, held by the Trust Company (Guyana) Limited assuming it was the final award.
- The Lawyers for the Society and Trust Company appealed that decision on Jan 09, 2018 and requested the Court of Appeal to set aside that order
- The Court has not deliberated on this matter as yet. However, Lawyers for Mr. Arjoon moved to secure an Order to Levy on the Society’s properties. While the Society paid over the said sum to avoid a confrontation, it will be taking steps to safeguard that sum given the fact that the matter will continue in Court until a final resolution.
- Assuming that they were correct to levy for the Pension Benefits, this payment ought to have been made from the Pension Scheme Funds and not the NBS assets. The Society will therefore seek to redress this illegal and improper conduct of Mr. Arjoon’s representatives, his Lawyers and the Marshals.
- The Society will also seek to have a proper explanation from the appropriate authorities concerning the seizure and impounding of one of its motor vehicles.