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Ex-Ecobank CEO Tanoh to fight London order blocking payouts

After he was awarded $22.5 million in damages.
Former Ecobank Transnational Chief Executive Officer Thierry Tanoh will challenge a London court’s order that blocks him from collecting $22.5 million in damages awarded by West African courts against his former employer.

The London ruling prevents Tanoh from enforcing court judgments in Togo and Ivory Coast against Ecobank, Soualiho Diomande, an attorney for Tanoh, said on Monday. The London court set a hearing for May 1. Ecobank, which operates in 36 African countries, more than any other lender, is based in Togo’s capital, Lome.

“A judge in London can’t tell us what we will do in this case,” Diomande said. Tanoh “will hire an attorney in London to attack the decision, which is unfair.”

Ecobank CEO Albert Essien said in March that the bank would turn to a London court and seek international arbitration to overturn the West African cases. Tanoh’s employment contract was based on British law, Essien said. The bank has appealed the Togolese wrongful termination ruling and Ivorian defamation judgment, he said.

“We’re doing exactly what we said we’d do,” Richard Uku, a Lome-based spokesman for Ecobank, said by phone on Tuesday. “The legal process is taking its course.”

Tanoh left the bank more than a year ago. Regulators investigated allegations of management fraud and poor governance while he was CEO in 2013. Tanoh has denied any wrongdoing.

Ecobank’s shares, which trade in Nigeria, Ghana and Ivory Coast, were unchanged at 20.50 naira by the close on Monday in Lagos. The bank’s assets rose 8 percent to $24.2 billion last year.

©2015 Bloomberg News

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