After months of legal battle, the Commercial Court at the Temple of Justice on Tuesday, December 17, held the Central Bank of Liberia, (CBL) liable in the amount of LD$74,407.51 owed one Madam Veronica Doe.
Madam Doe is one of the children of the late President Samuel K. Doe.
Ms. Doe was seeking for payment of LD$74,401.51 she deposited into her account number S/A#36229 at what was then Citibank from 1989 to 1990.
Citibank was a foreign financial institution operating in Monrovia before the 1990 civil war.
The CBL on the other hand, argued that they have already paid the money to Madam Doe.
But, given the Court’s ruling, Judge Eva Mappy Morgan ruled that “defendant CBL’s plea that Madam Doe was paid did not meet its burden of proof by a preponderance of the evidence, and is liable to plaintiff Doe, in the amount of US$74,407.51, together with cost and interest in these proceedings.”
She added: “Compensation to Plaintiff Doe shall be governed in keeping with the law at the time of the opening of this account.”
“This law provides inter alia, (among other things) that an obligation may be discharged by the tender of Liberian dollar and the creditor cannot refuse to accept Liberia dollar in settlement of any obligation, unless there is an agreement requiring another currency,” Judge Morgan further ruled.
According to the Judge, based on the facts and law stated, the court holds that the best evidence that a case produces and must be admitted as evidence, is the basis of a court’s decision.
“The defendant, who puts forth affirmative defense in an answer to a plaintiff has the burden of proof,” she insisted.
The Commercial Court Judge noted that: “As the Honorable Supreme Court has reasoned that all burden of proof shifts to one who pleads affirmatively in response to a complaint filed, evidence alone enables the court decide a matter with certainty.”
She continued evidence must be relevant to determine the truth or falsity of a matter.”
The case started on May 5, 2013, after Veronica Doe’s mother, Madam Nancy B. Doe field an “Action of Debt by Deposit Contract against the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), alleging between, March 1989 to February 1990, she opened a savings account in trust for her daughter, at the Citibank.
She further alleged that she deposited said money into account number S/A#36229 at that bank.
She explained that on January 31, 1992, Citibank ceased operations in the country.
At that point, the bank entered into a voluntary liquidation with the National Bank of Liberia, now CBL, and became a Citibank agent.
It was for the purpose of disposing of bank assets and paying creditors and depositors of the defunct Citibank.
She also claimed that CBL appointed Cllr. Varney Sherman to serve as liquidator.
But, when she approached Cllr. Sherman on the issue of the money, sometime in 2012, he informed her that upon completion of his assignment as liquidator, he, Sherman turned over to CBL all proceeds of those persons not paid.
The CBL, however, filed its answer with a “Motion to Dismiss” Madam Doe’s complained, alleging that no personal relationship ever existed between the National Bank of Liberia (NBL) and Citibank to serve as a legal relationship between Veronica Doe and the NBL.
The Bank also claimed that Ms. Doe did not deposit any money with NBL, now CBL to create the legal relationship alluded to by her.
They further argued that CBL was not an agent of the defunct Citibank, nor did it appoint Cllr. Sherman as liquidator for the bank.
The bank went on to say that she was paid, according to documents, submitted by another liquidating bank, Meridian BIOA Bank and General Agent of the defunct Citibank.