- Bank Accounts of MTN, Chococam have been Frozen since September 2022
- Even Accounts of Broadband Company, The Muketes (a Shareholder of MTN), are also Attached
- MTN Cameroon CEO Insists Company has no Shareholding Link with Danpullo’s Bestinver Company Bankers
The story goes that Ahmadou Baba Danpullo’s company in South Africa, Bestinver Company South Africa Limited, which is a group of three real estate companies, ran into problems with the FirstRand Bank, FRB Limited in South Africa, over loans that the Group borrowed from the bank in 2016 and 2017, and defaulted several times in the monthly repayment of the loans. The defaults were a serious breach or gross violation of the terms of the written agreement for the loans that were signed between Bestinver Company and the FirstRand Bank.
The Chairman of Bestinver Company, Ahmadou Baba Danpulo, who personally signed the loans on behalf of the company, had mortgaged all the three real estate companies of the Group, for the loans. According to court documents, the series of defaults that were made by Danpullo’s Bestinvver Company in the repayment of the loans by monthly instalment, started in the middle 2018, which was long before the outbreak of COVID-19.
Several Defaults Registered In The Repayment Of The Loans
Meanwhile, the ‘wahala’ between FirstRand Bank and Danpullo’s Bestinver Company over the several defaults in the repayment of the loan, finally went to court in late 2019, with the bank depositing four applications for the liquidation of Bestinver Company and it’s three affiliates. On October 7, 2019, the Sheriff of The High Court of South Africa, Gauteng Local Division, Johannesburg, served the Section 345 Notice on the business address of Johannesburg (Joburg) Skyscraper, which was one of the three affiliates of Baba Danpullo’s Bestinver Company South Africa Propriety Limited.
The court turned the four applications for liquidation into four cases; that is one against each of the four companies involved, that is Bestinver Company (Group) and its three affiliates. The four cases were: Case Number 22339/19, Case Number 22340/19, Case Number 22341/19 and Case Number 22342/19. All these happened in late 2019, which was before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Suffice again to say that as regard the four cases in court, the court in its final ruling in 2020 ordered that Bestinver Company South Africa Propriety Limited and its three affiliates should be placed on liquidation.
Motion Exparte Filed In Court
Upon his return to Cameroon, Baba Danpullo instead claimed that FirstRand Bank had unjustly grabbed his thee real estate companies. Danpullo’s lawyers in Cameroon, alleged that the losses that he incurred in the South Africa are valued at a total of 250 billion francs CFA. That is an estimated amount of 200 billion francs CFA for property lost which are the three real estate companies, and then about 50 billion francs CFA as charges for rents lost and other things.
But the very strange or abnormal part in the story, is that in September 2022, Baba Danpulio who has instead claimed that FirstRand Bank in South Africa seized his Group of three real estate companies, and that the bank thus allegedly owes him 250 billion francs CFA, through his lawyers filed a Motion Exparte at the Court of First Instance (Magistrate Court) Bonanjo, Douala. It should be noted that according to legal minds, Motion Exparte is a motion for a court order that can be granted without waiting for a response from the opposite side.
The Lies Continue
The lawyers in the Motion Exparte prayed that the court should assist their client, Ahmadou Bab Danpullo, to recover the sum of 250 billion francs from MTN Cameroon and Chococam, being the purported money that FirstRand Bank in South Africa allegedly owes him. It should be noted that MTN Cameroon and Chococam are the two major companies in Cameroon whose majority shareholders are South African Companies, or better still, companies based in South Africa.
Danpullo’s camp claims that FirstRand Bank, FRB, or its affiliate, First National Bank, FNB, is a shareholder in MTN Cameroon and Chococam. Another version of the allegation being told reporters by some people in the Baba Danpullo Camp is that the Public Investment Company in South Africa has shares in FirstRand Bank as well as in both MTN Cameroon and Chococam. There are in fact quite a number of versions of the allegations, as one can find in the social media and some Francophone media organs that quote lawyers or sources in the Dampullo camp.
In an interview granted French newspaper, EcoMartin, one of Danpullo’s lawyers whose name was only given as Barrister Mbanzehe, said there was a link between MTN Cameroon and Chococam with First National Bank. Asked to provide evidences to substantiate his claim, the lawyer said their team will only do so in court. Baba Danpullo’s camp has also been very confusing as to the bank from which he obtained the loan in South Africa for the Bestinver Group. The lawyer who granted an interview to EcoMartin, repeatedly said Danpullo’s company obtained the loans from First National Bank, whereas it was from FirstRand Bank.
Court Orders Attachment Of MTN Accounts, And Others
Meanwhile, back to the Motion Exparte that was filed by Baba Danpullo’s lawyers at the Court of First Instance, at Bonanjo, Douala, without the Danpullo side presenting any evidence for the purported money allegedly owed the Bestinver Company under liquidation in South Africa by MTN and Chococam, the judge at the Court of First Instance at Bonanjo, Douala, in September 2022, signed a court order attaching or freezing MTN Cameroon and Chococam accounts in all banks in Cameroon.
The following month, that is October 2022, a 100 % Cameroonian owned company, Broadband (the Muketes) which is a shareholder of MTN Cameroon, started a Third Party proceeding at the Court of First Instance Bonanjo, Douala. The proceeding was to formally inform the court in regard to the controversial decision that was taken in September, that MTN Cameroon was not a 100 % South African Company, as the Broadband Company is a shareholder. In that light, Broadband stated that the attachment of the accounts of MTN Cameroon was thus unjust and prejudicial to the Cameroonian shareholders.
But ironically, Baba Danpulo’s lawyers instead used the information that was provided by the Broadband Company in the Third Party proceedings, to obtain another controversial court order that authorised them to also attach the bank accounts of the company, which is a 100 % Cameroonian owned company.
Attempt To Also Freeze Mobile Pool Account
Worst still, the lawyers of Baba Danpullo even attempted to have the MTN Mobile Pool Account (account of MTN Mobile Money) which would have been terrible. Fortunately the Governor of the Bank of Central African States commonly known by the French acronym, BEAC, rapidly intervened to stop the disaster from happening. The BEAC Governor explained that the MoMo account of MTN holds funds that belong to the population of Cameroon and not to MTN. The Governor thus warned that the account could not be attached, and it will be a gross violation CEMAC’s text to do such a thing. Yet Danpullo’s lawyers kept threatening to freeze the account.
MTN Launches Counter –Offensive
The June 9 controversial order that was issued by the Court of First Instance Bonanjo, Douala, came at a time when MTN Cameroon had finally resolved to launch a counter –offensive in the illegal charge that was launched against the company in September last year by Baba Danpullo and his team of five lawyers. MTN Cameroon finally engaged a team of senior lawyers led by a former President of the Cameroon Bar Council, Ngnie Kamga.
When the problem started last September, MTN Cameroon was apparently at a loss over the mafia that looked more like madness. The company tried to draw the attention of the authorities over the issue, but unfortunately the Government did not call Baba Danpulo to order. In the absence of an MTN Cameroon team of defense lawyers in the matter in court, Danpullo’s lawyers were having a field day, while also to trying to feed the public with their false narratives through the social media and some traditional media organs.
Anglophone Media Ignored, Side-lined!!!
MTN Cameroon finally decided to launch a counter offensive to putting together a solid team of lawyers. But as regard communication on the issue, MTN Cameroon has been lagging, because the communication so far has been centred on the Francophone media (both social and traditional media), with the Anglophone bloggers and traditional media seemingly been side-lined or ignored. Thus the Anglophone Community so far knows little or nothing about the real facts in this game of mafia launched against MTN Cameroon. Yet it is a truism that the Anglophones in general have over the years remained the most faithful and loyal customers of MTN Cameroon. Take it or leave it, this is an indisputable fact.
MTN CEO Dismisses Allegations Of Shareholding -Link
At the first press conference that MTN Cameroon organised recently on the allegations being made peddled against the company by Baba Danpullo and his lawyers, the Chief Executive Officer, CEO, of the company, Mme Mitwa Ng’ambi, reportedly rejected the allegations as spurious. She was quoted to have pointed out at a press conference that MTN Cameroon is a company registered in the country since the year 2000 by both local and international shareholders.
The CEO reiterated that as regards shareholdings, MTN Cameroon has nothing to do with the bankers of Bestinver Company in South Africa. She insisted that there was neither a direct nor an indirect link. She asserted that there is nothing secret or private about the composition of MTN Shareholders, for it is public domain and anybody can verify.
Playing With 800 Direct And 200,000 Indirect Jobs Of Cameroonians
The game that Baba Danpullo’s lawyers and the Court of First Instance at Bonanjo, Douala have been staging against MTN Cameroon since September 2022 in the Motion Exparte, is a very dangerous and irresponsible game that threatens among other things the livelihoods of thousands of Cameroonians. MTN Cameroon is one of the biggest employers in the country, with 800 direct employees, and provides 200,000 indirect jobs to Cameroonians. The mobile telephony company, MTN Cameroon, has 12 million subscribers. As regard Mobile Money, MoMo, MTN Cameroon has 5 million clients.
Furthermore, the turnover of MTN Cameroon last year (2022), was a staggering amount of 256.86 billion francs CFA. MTN Cameroon is currently one of the highest tax payers in Cameroon, which means that the company annually contributes quite much to the State coffers for the realisation of the annual State budget.
By Joe Dinga Pefok (Uncle Joe)
Facebook; The Mentor
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