Over Alleged 10 Percent Unpaid Signature Release Fee; Insurance Company Backs Off in FIB US$1.2M Theft Case

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    Drama unfolded at Criminal Court ‘C’ yesterday when Sky International Insurance Corporation withdrew its bail bonds for the release of six First International Bank (FIB)employees accused of stealing US$1.2million, from custody at the Monrovia Central Prison.

    The Insurance Company claimed that defendants Kebbeh Kula Klark, Jeremiah Tegli, Beyan Dadzi, Richard Gboyah, Africanis Freeman and Robert Cummings failed to live up to the terms and conditions of its policy.

    The company did not disclose the policy’s terms and conditions of the bond.

    The withdrawal now gives the court the authority to re-arrest all of the defendants that were covered under that bond, which the court ordered its sheriffs to do.

    The purpose of the bail was to assure the attendance of the defendants whenever their presence was required in court, whether before or after conviction.

    The company’s bond is twice the US$1.2million allegedly stolen by the defendants, meaning that it paid US$2.4million either in cash or surrendered its properties to the court.

    Unfortunately, insurance companies sometimes charge 10 percent of the bond as a non-refundable signature release fee at the beginning of the transaction.

    If it is true, then each of the six defendants was expected to pay 10 percent of what each was accused of stealing out of the US$2.4 million, which is US$875,780.

    The US$875,780 was to be paid as a non-refundable signature fee to Sky International Insurance Corporation.

    Defendant Kebbeh Klark was accused of stealing US$108,700 of which she was to pay US$10,870 representing 10 percent of the US$2.4miillion, Jeremiah Tegli was also accused of stealing US$1,922,000 of which he was to pay US$192,000, representing 10 percent, while Beyan Dadzi was accused of stealing US$207,040 and was to pay US$20,704 also representing 10 percent.  Richard Gboyah and Africanis Freeman allegedly stole US$571,125 and US$132,200 and were to pay US$57,112.5 and US$13,220, respectively, representing 10 percent.

    Defendant Robert Cummings was accused of stealing US$676,610 and was expected to pay US$67,661 representing the 10 percent non-refundable signature release fee.

    What is more shocking is that Insurance Companies normally ensure that their clients give them tangible security, such as the title to a valuable car or they place a lien on a defendant’s home.

    If the bond is forfeited, the company seizes the property and sells it to recoup the money and pay it to the court.

      In one of its withdrawal communications on defendant Jeremiah Tegli, the insurance company said, “We would like to bring to your attention that defendant Jeremiah Tegli was covered by US$1,922,000 under the criminal appearance bond on our policy and has failed to live up  to the policy’s terms and conditions.”

    It further stated, “[This is] despite many attempts by management to have him meet up with the terms and conditions appertaining thereto, especially the payment for the policy.”

    It added,” Consequently, we are constrained to withdraw said coverage with immediately effect.”

    According to a judicial expert, if the bail bond has served its purpose, the surety (company) will be exonerated (i.e., released from the obligation).

    The expert said that exoneration normally occurs when the proceeding is terminated in some way or on the return of the defendant to custody.

    “After conviction, the defendant appears for sentence. If sentenced to imprisonment, the defendant is committed to the custody of the sheriff, and the liability of the surety terminates,” the judicial expert stated.

    “Bail bond business,” the expert noted, “is a contractual agreement with a variety of courts around the country, stipulating to post a bond and agreeing to be irrevocably bound by the agreement.”

    He explained that in return, the court allows them to bail a defendant out of jail by signature, meaning without having to front the cash for the transaction.

    “The court understands that either the defendants will return on their scheduled court date, or the bail bondsmen will pay the entire amount to the clerk of the court. Because what the bail bondsmen agreed to is irrevocable, the court knows it will receive payment.  At face value, this looks like a situation that is beneficial for only one side,” he said.  The insurance company in this case benefits.

    He further noted, “The fact that the bail bond is now in hot demand by the defendants wishing to avail themselves of their prearranged agreement, places that bail bond company in a good position to make a lot of money.”

    ”They can get a sizable profit if the defendants, who are bailed out of jail, show up for their scheduled court hearing,” he added.

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