The Supreme Court has ordered the lower court to conduct an immediate audit of the late Milard Hage’s Estate assets.
Delivering the High Court’s opinion on January 24, Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor declared that “the Court order for a comprehensive audit to be conducted for both the period the executor administered the Hage estate and the period Ecobank collected proceeds of the Estate to cover loans given by the bank to the late Hage, to ensure that no legal or irregular acts were perpetrated on the Estate.”
He said, “This case has been in court for a long time without final determination; the Monthly Probate Court is mandated to give first priority handling.”
The late Hage was one of the leading Lebanese businessmen in the country, leaving behind extensive properties.
After his death another Lebanese citizen, Bassam H. Jawhary, became the executor of his estate.
However, one of the late Hage’s wives, Madam Oumou Sirleaf Hage, a Liberian, filed a motion to the Monthly and Probate Court praying the court to exclude certain properties said to be owned by her, from the testate estate of the late Milard Hage.
She also requested the court to have Bassam H. Jawhary audited in respect of the administration of said estate.
But, Judge Vinton J. Holder denied Mrs. Sirleaf Hage’s request asking for what she claims are her properties to be excluded from the estate of her late husband.
He agreed for Bassam to undertake an audit of his stewardship of the estate and make a report to the court.
That ruling did not go down well with Bassam who later announced an appeal to the High Court.
Chief Justice Korkpor later declared “the audit shall include recommendations of steps and actions to be taken in the event of any findings of improper collectors or use of all estate’s funds by any of the fiduciaries.”
He continued: “The foregoing acts shall be without prejudice to any actions commenced or pending in any courts of the Republic by or between any of the parties named herein.”
He instructed Judge Holder: “You are to order Jawhary to furnish a detailed statement of the status of the loan facility the Hage Estate has with Ecobank.”
“Ensure that he establishes an account, if such account is not already established, into which all monies belonging to the Hage Estate are deposited,” the Chief Justice declared.
“Operation of the account shall be with the approval of the Monthly and Probate Court for Montserrado County.”
He further instructed the lower court, “Investigate the allegations of malpractices alleged to have been committed by Jawhary in his handling of the Hage Estate’s properties including the Estate loans.”
“Revoke his letters of testament in the event that the investigation conducted reveals that he has engaged in misconduct or mismanagement of the affairs of the Hage Estate,” the head of the Supreme Court further insisted.
“Determine whether or not the lease agreement executed by and between Oumou Sirleaf-Hage and Milard Hage has expired, in accordance with its terms and conditions,” ordered Justice Korkpor.
He continued “In the event that said lease agreement is determined to have expired rent all properties covered by the agreement with Oumou Sirleaf Hage.”
He again instructed the court to “determine whether or not the property or properties covered by the lease agreement include properties owned by the children of Milard Hage and Oumou Sirleaf Hage.
And, if so, render void the lease agreement by and between Oumou and Milard Hage, in so far as it covers and relates to the properties owned by said children,” the Chief Justice concluded.