A US$3 million damages lawsuit brought against Ecobank-Liberia by the Management of Embassy Suites Hotel took a different turn yesterday when the managing director of the hotel admitted that her father, Anwar Saoud, used his own company, Liberia Resort Management Group as collateral for a US$500K loan from the bank.
Mr. Saoud, a Lebanese businessman, has reportedly failed to pay back the loan to date.
The lawsuit was filed by Embassy Suites against the bank for allegedly closing down the hotel without court authorization on December 24, 2014, for which action the hotel management is claiming US$3m in damages.
Madam Sarah Saoud, in her testimony at the Civil Law Court in Monrovia, said her father did not use the money to construct the facility that currently houses the Embassy Suites Hotel. Instead, it was his children that raised the funds for the construction of the hotel, she contended.
The Hotel is located in the diplomatic enclave of Mamba Point, Monrovia.
Ecobank’s action was based on a ruling of the Commercial Court, holding the Liberia Resort Management Group’s manager, Anwar Saoud, liable for the amount of US$1,084,595.62 in an “Action of Debt by Attachment” brought against him by the bank.
In enforcing the court’s ruling, the Ecobank went ahead and attached the Embassy Suites Hotel as some of the properties owned by Mr. Saoud. The Embassy Suites is said to be owned by Sarah and her siblings.
Testifying further, Madam Saoud said, “We don’t know what he did with the loan. What I can say is that while we were out of the country, we the children of Mr. Saoud, contacted him to look for a place where we could build the hotel.”
She explained, “This is how he managed to enter into a lease agreement with Liberia Resort Management Group and used their facility to construct the hotel. Let me admit that the Embassy Suites Hotel is built on the premises of my father’s company, and we used him to build it for us.”
Throughout her testimony, her fathr, Mr. Saoud, sat patiently and quietly in the courtroom listening to what his daughter said.
The case was recently halted after Judge Yussif Kaba’s public comment that the jury was corrupting the legal system, prompting Ecobank’s lawyers to ask him to sequester (isolate) the nine jurors selected to help him decide the US$3m damages case against the bank.
The case continues today with the defense team taking the witness stand.