The ‘Unbelievable’ drama unfolded yesterday, December 1, 2017 at the Commercial Court, Temple of Justice where the main entry to the Court was sealed and locked ahead of the hearing of a case between George Haddad’s group of companies; the Alliance and Prestige Motor regarding the unpaid debt of US$10.7 million the Liberia Government owed the Lebanese businessman which was scheduled for hearing at 10am.
The huge chain and padlock was visibly seen aimed at preventing complaint and others who had gone there that morning to witness the case as was earlier rescheduled that day (December 1, 2017) by the Chief Judge of the Commercial Court, Judge Eva Mappy Morgan following the failure of Liberian Government legal team to appear on that day.
This move on the part of the Court’s administration to sealed the entry, Mr. Haddad (The Complainant or Plaintiff) and others who had come to the court as scheduled from far and near to witness the case were compelled to use a detour route of the Court to enter in anticipation to listen to the Chief Judge during her ruling in the case, but instead it was to the contrary.
This action on the part of the Court to seal its entry ahead of a major case of such nature where a businessman is craving for justice in demand of his payment owed by the Liberian Government after rendering services and making available brand new vehicles that are yet to be paid for, some Liberians who were at the court outrageously accused of the government of not been fair to the businessman.
Speaking to our reporter yesterday, an official of the Ministry of Finance, Development Planning (MFDP) who refused to be named for fear of reprisal from his bosses at the Ministry confirmed that the Liberian Government is indeed indebted to the Alliance and Prestige Motors, and wondered why the delay, “It is indeed shameful for a government to deliberately refused to settle its own financial debt to a local business entity that pay taxes to the very government,” the MFDP official who was also at the court told the GNN in an exclusive interview.
It can be recalled that last week, Chief Judge Eva Mappy Morgan of the Commercial Court re-assigned the hearing into the case for Friday, December 1, 2017 amid plea by state lawyers of the Liberian Government’s un-readiness to proceed with the trial.
State lawyers represented by Cllr. Augustine C. Fayia, at the call of the case last Tuesday, November 21, at 10 a.m. pleaded with the court for continuance (time) to enable them (State lawyers] to review the case files and consult the relevant government authorities including the Minister of Finance & Development Planning.
Presiding Judge Morgan rejected the plea from the state lawyer to suspend the case, however, following consultations with the parties in Chambers; she reassigned the case for today, Friday, December 1, and advised all parties to take note of the new assigned date for the hearing of the case.
Earlier, lawyers representing the Alliance and Prestige Motors owned by the Lebanese businessman, vehemently opposed the request to suspend the case and said it is done in bad faith and intended to baffle the case.
“The continuous request by state prosecutors to shelve the trial was designed primarily to frustrate and deny the companies justice in keeping with the law,” said Cllr. Moses Paegar, lead lawyer for the Alliance and Prestige Motors.
The Alliance and Prestige Motors, representing American and German auto dealers in Monrovia, had sued the Government of Liberia for allegedly refusing to pay for vehicles and spare parts supplied the government in 2003 and up to March 2008.
The action of damage for wrong by businessman Haddad against the Government of Liberia was first filed at the Commercial Court in 2014.
The case was first heard in 2015 by the Commercial Court where state lawyers filed a motion, and questioned whether the Commercial Court had the legal authority over the matter, which occurred between 2003 and 2008 when the court was established in 2011.
Alliance and Prestige Motors lawyers debunked the state lawyers’ claims that though the Commercial Court was established in 2011 by an Act of the National Legislature as a specialized court to adjudicate cases arising of commercial transactions nevertheless when the transaction occurred.
Commercial Court Judge Morgan denied the state lawyers’ motion on ground that the court was established for all cases arising from commercial transactions.
According to lawyers representing the companies, the US$10.7 million vehicles and spare parts supply has since accumulated huge interest due to the alleged failure by the current Government of Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to pay in the last 10 years of her administration.
The lawyers representing the companies have argued in court that the debt case has generated huge interest in the international community, especially the German and American companies, which have supplied the vehicles and spare parts to the Alliance and Prestige Motors in Monrovia.
The Alliance and Prestige Motors lawsuit for damage against the government is being made at the time when the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had assisted the Liberian Government under its Extended Credit Facility (ECF) program with yet another US$20.7 million intended to settle domestic debts.
Some Liberians who spoke to our reporter regarding the delay of the case, expressed disappointment in the Liberian Government for its failure to settle its arrears with the businessman for the provision of vehicles and spare parts to the government.
“How do you expect for this man’s business to grow? It is very shameful on the part of this Government,” Esther Daniels a Liberian businesswoman speaking to the GNN Liberia pondered.