LBA, UBA May Face Damages Suit

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Four days after counselors Arthur T. Johnson and Swaliho Sesay, co-owners of the Johnson and Sesay Law Firm, were named as “bad debtors” by the Liberia Bankers Association (LBA), the pair has threatened to file a defamation suit against the association for wrongful publication.

LBA, in its publication, alleged that Counselors Johnson and Sesay owed the United Bank of Africa (UBA) US$27,105.15.

Out of the US$27,105.15, the LBA claimed Johnson owed US$13, 671.58 and Sesay, US$13,433.57.

Recently, LBA launched a massive publication of the names of institutions and individuals allegedly indebted to commercial banking institutions.

Although the association did not publish details of the loan agreement entered between the counselors and the UBA, the LBA claimed that the action was an attempt to shame those indebted to commercial banking institutions, including Johnson and Sesay, for their failure to honor their arrangements with the banks. The publication labeled debtors, including both counselors, as “bad debtors.”

“Publishing us as bad debtors without conducting an inquiry was wrong and it also tarnished our hard earned reputation,” Cllr. Sesay claimed.
Sesay further alleged that the publication showed that the evidence gathered by the LBA was tainted with errors and is subject to rebuttal, although Sesay admitted crediting from the bank.

He claimed that they took US$27,105.15 as part of a contract arrangement they held with the UBA in 2013, of which the bank was to pay the law firm the amount of US$39,192.58, after they recovered US$391,925.83 for the bank.

“We agreed that the US$27,105.15 be subtracted from the US$39,192.58 that was transferred into our accounts at the bank. This was what we have been thinking about, but the LBA without any investigation, published our names as bad debtors,” Sesay explained.

Sesay claimed that the publication was “baseless” and lacked respect for their law firm, which had assisted the UBA to recover thousands of United States dollars from debtors.

“We have never experienced such a bad publication and we are not going to sit down and allow the allegation to go free. We are going to file for damages, if they do not retract their erroneous publication that put our reputation at stake.”

In 2013, the UBA appointed the Law Firm as debt recovery agents.

The bank’s letter, a copy of which is with the Daily Observer, reads: “Following the meeting held between our organizations, we write to confirm the appointment of your law firm as debt recovery agent based on the following terms and conditions.

“The mandate on which the bank will be assigning any account to your law firm will be on a case by case basis.”

The remuneration for recovery service, according to the letter, is fixed as follows: “Recoveries from 0-US$33, 333, 33 the firm shall be paid 10 percent; recoveries from 33, 333, 33-US$100,000 the firm shall be paid 7.5 percent; recoveries from 100-US$333,333 the firm shall be paid 5 percent; and recoveries from above US$33, 333, 33 the firm shall be paid 2.5 to 3.5 percent.”

The letter concluded: “We expect the law firm to successfully conclude the assignment within a reasonable period of not exceeding 90 days from the date of the agreement. The law firm is required to send regular updates to the bank of any progress made on recoveries.”

According to Sesay, based on the agreement, his law firm was successful in recovering US$391,925.83 from 40 individuals and institutions that were indebted to the bank, of which the bank owed the law firm US$39,192.58.
The recoveries, he said, were done from 2013 to 2015.

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