$90M lawsuit against Central Bank struck out by High Court

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The Bank of Guyana

A $90M lawsuit against the Bank of Guyana, and its Governor Dr. Gobind Ganga was on Monday dismissed by High Court Judge Priya Sewnarine-Beharry who among other things, deemed it an abuse of the court process.

Via a Statement of Claim, former APNU/AFC Minister Ronald Bulkan and his brother, Rustum Bulkan were seeking damages in excess of $90M from the Central Bank.

Dr. Ganga and Bank of Guyana were listed as the Respondents in their Claim filed in December 2019 by lawyer Patrice Henry.

Former Communities Minister, Ronald Bulkan

They had accused the Bank and Dr. Ganga of neglecting statutory duties when they failed to launch an investigation into the deposit of $82, 068,617 into an account for which they are the only authorized signatories, belonging to Precision Woodworking Limited that was held at Republic Bank (Guyana) Limited (RBL).

The two brothers are shareholders in Precision Woodworking, a company that was placed into receivership of RBL in June 2016. To counter the brothers’ application, Dr. Ganga and Central Bank, through lawyer Pauline Chase, filed a Notice of Application in February 2020, asking that the lawsuit be dismissed.

In dismissing the Statement of Claim, Justice Sewnarine-Beharry underscored that the action is an abuse of the process. The High Court Judge held, “Statements of Case must be concise. They must plead only material facts, meaning those necessary for the purpose of formulating a cause of action or defence, and not background facts or evidence. Still less should they contain arguments, reasons, or rhetoric. [This] Statement of Claim is incoherent, prolix, lacks precision and is obscure.”

Furthermore, the Judge said that the action against Central Bank and its Governor should have been brought by Precision Woodworking Limited, and not its shareholders. According to her, it is trite that a company has a separate legal personality from its directors and shareholders. In fact, the High Court Judge ruled that Dr. Ganga was improperly sued in his personal capacity.

Furthermore, the Judge noted that the action brought by the brothers is statue barred. She noted, too, that an action for the recovery of damages must be brought within three years after the cause of action arises.

It was ordered that the brothers pay $250,000 in court costs to the Respondents on or before October 30, 2020. It was further ordered that counsel for the brothers personally pay costs in the sum of $75,000 to the Respondents on or before October 30, 2020, for prolixity of pleadings. The court further ordered costs awarded shall be paid before any further steps are taken in the proceedings.