Ecobank to comply partially with court order on ex-CEO Tanoh

Ecobank to comply partially with court order on ex-CEO Tanoh

Monday, January 26, 2015 12:07 am

Pan-African lender Ecobank will comply with an order by a court in Ivory Coast to publish in international media a judgment in a defamation case brought by its former chief executive even as it appeals against the ruling, a bank spokesman told Reuters on Sunday.

Ecobank must publish the commercial court’s ruling on former CEO Thierry Tanoh’s case in “all news media and internet sites” or face a fine of $400,000 a day, according to the judgement issued on Jan. 15.

The order stems from a suit brought by Tanoh concerning events leading up to his dismissal as CEO last March after months of turmoil over corporate governance that rocked one of the largest financial institutions in sub-Saharan Africa.The court said Ecobank and the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) of South Africa must pay Tanoh $15 million for defamation in a ruling Tanoh’s lawyer said re-established his honour.

The PIC is the largest asset manager in Africa and one of the top shareholders in Ecobank, a bank headquartered in Togo and listed in Nigeria, Ghana and on the West African regional bourse BRVM.

Both Ecobank and the PIC said last week they would challenge the ruling in Ivory Coast’s court of appeal but a spokesman for Ecobank said it would abide by the court order.

“We are appealing this judgement which we find unfair. In the interim, to comply with the stipulation that we must publish this ruling, we are doing precisely that,” group head of communications Richard Uku said.

“We have done everything to show that we respect the court’s directive but do not accept it pending our appeal. No steps have been taken to pay the $15 million,” he said.

The order to publish came into effect on Friday when Ecobank received formal notification of the court’s decision, he said.

The court ruled that a letter by the PIC’s chief executive Daniel Matjila tarnished Tanoh’s image. The letter gave reasons why Tanoh’s contract as CEO should be terminated. News of the letter was broken by Reuters on March 1.Matjila, who at that time was the PIC’s chief investment officer, is one of 12 directors on Ecobank’s board.

Judgment in a separate case involving Tanoh’s dismissal filed in Togo is expected early next month. Tanoh, an Ivorian, now works for Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara as deputy secretary-general in the presidency.

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