By-The High Court of Zambia has ordered the country’s central bank to pay back over US$1 Million to Zimbabwean business tycoon Jayesh Shah.
The money was seized in 1998 from Shah, who has vast business interests in Zimbabwe, Zambia and India, among other countries.
NewZimbabwe reports that the judgment follows a prolonged legal dispute stretching over the past 24 years.
Justice Edward Luputa Musona sitting at the Zambian High Court Thursday found the bank at fault, bringing an end to the long-running dispute. Said the judge in delivering his ruling:
This is proper particularly that the history of litigation, in this case, dates back to the year 1998. It is 24 years old in the courts. It is the Bank of Zambia which has unduly and unjustly perpetuated this case.
This dispute has been in a back-and-forth movement, from High Court to Supreme Court.
This is sad. Litigation must have an end. 24 years in court is too long. Bank of Zambia has abused its immunity against execution. This should end because it is not good governance.
Now, therefore, I order that leave to appeal is granted but subject to a deposit by the Bank of Zambia into court of 30% of the judgment sum being US$139, 191, 386 within the period during which an appeal may be lodged. Parties may proceed to uplift this judgment.
On January 16, 1998, Zambia’s Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) informed Al Shams Building Materials Limited’s bankers – First Merchant Bank Zambia Limited – and the Attorney General that it had seized the firm’s accounts with over US$1 million pending investigations.
The bank was later placed under receivership and on March 16, 1999, the Bank of Zambia ordered its liquidation.
Al Shams Building Materials Limited and Shah approached the Zambia High Court, which on October 12, 1999, ruled that the money should be returned to the owners since the seizure was unlawful and illegal.
The court ruled that in the case of First Merchant Bank failing to reimburse Shah and his company, the Bank of Zambia was held liable and, in the alternative, the Attorney General was ordered to pay if the funds could not be found.
The bank and the Attorney General appealed to the Supreme Court against the ruling and, on November 2, 2000, the appeal was dismissed.
The Supreme Court of Zambia dismissed the Bank of Zambia’s three further appeals on March 28, 2006, December 31, 2012, and May 2, 2014.
The Bank of Zambia, on October 6, 2014, filed a motion on the May 2, 2014 appeal Judgment, 157 days out of time in terms of the laws of Zambia seeking to re-open the 2000 Appeal.
It remains to be seen if the bank will this time give Shah the money.