Uncompleted Negotiation Stalls US$10.7M Vehicle Debt Hearing

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L-R: Judge Eva Mappy Morgan and George Haddad, who is seeking a US$10.7M judgement against government.

Having accepted a two-week postponement of the hearing of the US$10.7 million vehicle debt case by Prestige and Alliance Motors against the Government of Liberia, the Commercial Court at the Temple of Justice yesterday failed to proceed with the matter.

The court’s failure to start the case at the end of the two weeks grace period government lawyers earlier requested, was due to request from Cllr. Augustine Fayiah, Assistant Minister for Litigation at the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), wherein he asked for another suspension.

Cllr. Fayiah, in his defense of the second postponement, explained that it was intended to give them more time to discuss the matter with the company’s legal team.

Fayiah was unclear with his statement with regards to whether or not they were ready to make an initial payment against the US$10.7 million debt to Lebanese businessman George Haddad, owner of the companies.

“We are asking the court to give additional time for us to conclude our discussion with the company’s lawyers,” the state lawyer noted.

“This request is not intended to delay the matter, but to give the parties opportunity to find an amicable solution to the matter,” Fayiah stated.

After Fayiah rested with his request for postponement, Cllr. Moses Peagar, the company’s lawyer, did not raise an objection, which prompted Chief Judge Eva Mappy Morgan to suspend the case.

As of yesterday, Judge Morgan has not announced a new date when her court will hear the matter.

An employee of one of the companies, who wants to remain anonymous, said there was the possibility that a significant amount of money will be forthcoming from the government against the debt.

The case resumed when Sherman and Sherman Law Firm, representing the legal interests of Haddad in 2012, filed a lawsuit against the government contending that from 2000 to 2008, Haddad sold and repaired vehicles and supplied spare parts amounting to US$10.7 million to several government institutions. Unfortunately, government is yet to pay the debt, despite Haddad’s plea for justice.

Haddad is the chief executive officer of Prestige Motors Corporation and Alliance Motors Corporation.

Government has not denied its indebtedness to the companies, but argues that the court lacked the jurisdiction to hear the case, because it was established by law in 2010, which gives it no legal right to determine a matter that happened before the court was established.

The court has repeatedly said it is clothed with the responsibility to hear and determine cases on all financial transactions, including the US$10.7 million debt, that existed before and after its establishment.

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