By Landing Ceesay
Creed Energy Limited, has sued Access Bank Gambia Limited for transferring a sum of GMD 339,963,424.01 (Three Hundred and Thirty-Nine Million, Nine Hundred and Sixty-Three Thousand, Four Hundred and Twenty-Four Dalasis, Zero-One Bututs) from its account to the account of Ultimate-Beige Logistics Gambia Company Limited without its instructions.
Creed Energy Limited, established in 2021 under The Gambia’s Companies Act, is involved in energy consultancy, petroleum trading, and various trading activities. Access Bank Gambia Limited, on the other hand, is a banking institution operating under the laws of The Gambia.
In its Statement of Claims, Creed Energy, the Plaintiff, asserted its status as a customer of Access Bank, maintaining a primary current account with the number 001011000xxxx and a subaccount with the number 00101100xxxx.
Creed Energy detailed that in April 2023, it approached Access Bank, the Defendant, seeking the issuance of a confirmation letter addressed to APOGEE FZC, a fuel supplier based in Dubai. This letter was intended for the supply of 36,935.614 metric tons of DIESEL at a gross price of USD 29,000,000.00 (Twenty-Nine Million United States Dollars). On April 20, 2023, the Defendant issued a non-binding confirmation letter to APOGEE FZC on behalf of the Plaintiff, as outlined in the Statement of Claim by Creed Energy.
“In April 2023, the Plaintiff (Creed Energy) approached the Defendant (Access Bank) for the issuance of a conform letter to one of its fuel suppliers, namely APOGEE FZC based in Dubai, for the Supply of 36, 935.614 metric tons of DIESEL for the gross price of USD 29, 000, 000.00 (Twenty-Nine Million United States Dollars). The Defendant on 20th April, 2023 issued a non-binding conform letter to the said APOGEE FZC on behalf of the Plaintiff. The said letter is pleaded,” Creed Energy said in its Statement of Claim.
Creed Energy asserted that, in preparation for the diesel sale scheduled for May 8, 2023, the company directed Access Bank to establish subaccounts under the name Creed Energy/Apogee FZC in GMD, USD, and EURO.
The Plaintiff specified Aurimas Steiblys as the exclusive signatory for these subaccounts, a designation supported by relevant documentation.
Creed Energy, acting as the Plaintiff, contends that Access Bank, following their instructions, duly created the mentioned subaccounts. Notably, APOGEE FZC never held a banking relationship with Access Bank, and the bank bears no responsibility to APOGEE FZC concerning the operation of these subaccounts.
According to Creed Energy, it initiated invoicing for diesel sales on May 24, 2023, with the sale proceeds being deposited into its designated subaccount (number: 00101100xxxx) at Access Bank.
The Plaintiff asserts its entitlement to a 25% commission or margin on each ton, totaling $923,375 for this transaction. Additionally, as a local business in The Gambia, Creed Energy acknowledges its obligation to pay taxes to the State for importing and selling the diesel fuel. Furthermore, it recognizes a liability of GMD 500,000.00 to the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA).
“On the 1st November, 2023, the Plaintiff (Creed Energy Limited) requested for the Defendant (Access Bank) to close the said subaccounts and move the funds therein into the Plaintiff’s main current account with the Defendant bank. However, the Defendant bank deliberately refused, failed, and/or neglected to honour, follow or respect the Plaintiff’s clear instructions, contrary to the Defendant bank’s obligations towards the Plaintiff as its customer. The letter written to the Defendant bank by the plaintiff together with the board resolution are hereby pleaded,” Creed Energy Limited said in its Statement of Claims.
The Plaintiff further claimed that on November 3, 2023, its legal practitioners wrote to the Access Bank, reiterating and demanding that they immediately close the said subaccounts and move the funds to their main current account.
“However, instead of the Defendant bank (Access Bank) honouring the Plaintiff, its customer’s instructions, it went ahead to debit the entire funds amounting to GMD 339, 963, 424.01 (Three Hundred and Thirty-Nine Million, Nine Hundred and Sixty-Three Thousand, Four Hundred and Twenty-Four Dalasis, Zero-One Bututs) and moved, credited or transferred it into the account of Ultimate-Beige Logistics (Gambia) Company Limited, without the instructions of the Plaintiff (Creed Energy) and/or its prior notification or confirmation to proceed with the said transaction,” Creed Energy Limited claimed.
Creed Energy claimed that it never authorized Access Bank to transfer the specified funds to the account of Ultimate Beige Logistics Gambia Company Limited. The company emphasized that any transactions on its accounts should only occur based on its explicit instructions.
According to Creed Energy, Access Bank’s actions were arbitrary and went against the instructions it had clearly provided. As a customer of the bank, Creed Energy asserted that Access Bank is obligated to strictly adhere to and execute its instructions within the legal framework. The company argued that Access Bank’s failure to comply with its directives to close the mentioned sub-accounts and transfer the funds to its main account amounts to a breach of the bank’s obligations to Creed Energy.
Creed Energy also asserted that the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) is conducting an investigation into their operations to determine the applicable tax amount for the diesel imported and sold in the country.
The company alleges that Access Bank’s actions contribute to hindering the state from collecting the rightful taxes for the mentioned transaction.
Attributing losses and damages to Access Bank’s actions, Creed Energy is seeking a declaration from the High Court of the Gambia that designates them as the customer of Access Bank, not APOGEE FZC. Accordingly, Creed Energy contends that Access Bank is obligated to adhere to their instructions within the legal framework governing their Banker Customer Relationship.
Creed Energy Limited is seeking a court order directing Access Bank to execute instructions for the closure of the sub-accounts established and managed immediately, with the funds contained therein to be relocated and/or transferred to its primary current account.
“A declaration that the Defendant bank’s purported transfer of the sum of GMD 339, 963, 424.01 (Three Hundred and Thirty-Nine Million, Nine Hundred and Sixty-Three Thousand, Four Hundred and Twenty-Four Dalasis, Zero-One Bututs) into the account of Ultimate-Beige Logistics (Gambia) Company Limited made without the Plaintiff’s instructions is insistent with the law that governs their Banker Customer Relationship and thereby amounts to a breach of contract.
“An order for the Defendant bank to return the sum of GMD339, 963, 424.01 (Three Hundred and Thirty-Nine Million, Nine Hundred and Sixty-Three Thousand, Four Hundred and Twenty-Four Dalasis, Zero-One Bututs) being the funds debited by the Defendant on November 3, 2023, from the Plaintiff’s account without Plaintiff’s instruction,” Creed Energy seeks from the Court.
Creed Energy is seeking GMD 5,000,000.00 (Five Million Dalasis) in general damages for breach of contract. They are also seeking aggravating damages against Access Bank for its “arbitrary” behavior. Additionally, Creed Energy is requesting GMD 300,000.00 (Three Hundred Thousand Dalasis) to cover the administrative and legal expenses incurred in this litigation. Finally, they are asking the court to order Access Bank to pay them interest at the rate of 4% from the date of judgment to the date of payment.
“Injunction against the Defendant Bank restraining itself, its agents, employees or servants from giving access, allowing withdrawal, transferring or doing any transaction or interfering with the sum of GMD 339,963,424.01 (Three Hundred And Thirty-Nine Million, Nine Hundred and Sixty-Three Thousand, Four Hundred and Twenty-Four Dalasis, Zero-One Bututs) transferred into the account of Ultimate-Beige Logistics (Gambia) Company Limited pending the determination of this suit,” Creed Energy seeks from the court.