After several court appearances without the seven defendants it bailed out of jail, the management of Sky Insurance Company was yesterday threatened with imprisonment by Judge Peter Gbeneweleh of Criminal Court ‘C,’ if the insurance company failed to produce them by Friday, June 5.
Judge Gbeneweleh also ordered the seven defendants to be re-arrested and brought under the jurisdiction of the court.
“If they are arrested after 6:00 p.m. they should be detained at the nearest police station,” the Judge said.
The company in 2013 secured over US$1.2m bail bond that compelled the court to release the defendants from further detention, and to have them appear whenever called upon to answer to their charges.
They were accused of stealing US$1.2m from the First International Bank (FIB) FIB where they were employed.
Unfortunately, the company is yet to bring the defendants to answer to their multiple charges ranging from money laundering, theft of property, criminal conspiracy and facilitation and forgery despite several attempts to locate and have them appear in court.
Surprisingly, it was when Sky management appeared yesterday, again without the defendants, that their lawyers admitted failing to find the defendants saying all efforts had failed thereby embarrassing their insurance company without any justifiable cause.
Their admission prompted Judge Gbeneweleh in his ruling to declare that he was giving the management of Sky Insurance Company up to Friday, June 5, to produce before this court the seven co-defendants on whose behalf it filed the bond.
He reiterated that “these co-defendants should be produced before the court at the hour of 9:00 a.m. failing which the managing director or his deputies would be detained for 30 days.
The Judge did not say whether or not the court would force the insurance company, if they again did not present the defendants before him to pay back the US$1.2 million allegedly stolen from the bank.
Instead, he went ahead to quote Section 13.8 of the Criminal Procedural Law which states, “It provides that the surety is under obligation to surrender defendants before a court of competent jurisdiction where the matter was first handled.”
“In this instance it is the responsibility of the management of the Sky Insurance Company to produce before this court, the co-defendants in whose favor the bail bond was signed.”
Judge Gbeneweleh’s statement came after Sky Insurance lawyers argued that it was the defendants’ individual lawyers, who asked them to secure the bail which they did not do on their own.
They appealed to the court to also charge the defendants’ lawyers with criminal contempt to show why their clients cannot be produced before this court.
Judge Gbeneweleh clarified in his ruling that, “our law did not provide that a counsel for a defendant is obliged to produce his client before the court, when said legal counsel is not a surety of that client, instead, he or she was representing the legal interest of said client.”
He said the request by the lawyer of the surety, insurance company, to hold the legal counsels of the defendants in contempt of court was not supported by law.
In addition, Judge Gbeneweleh emphasized that “it is provocative and confrontational and indeed warrant the court to imprison its managing director.”
“I am taken aback for a legal counsel who is voice of the law to ask the court to hold his colleague liable for their clients’ non- appearance, when they are not the sureties,” he responded.
Before, Judge Gbeneweleh’s decision, prosecution in counter argument said, it may be true that lawyers represented the defendants in securing the bond from the Sky Insurance Company.
They contended that it was the company that entered into a contract with the defendants and not the lawyers.
“As such, it remains the responsibility of Sky Insurance Company to produce the defendants, if and when said, demand arises,” they said.