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Business mogul wins 24-year-old legal battle

Local News
Court hammer

ZIMBABWEAN business mogul Jayesh Shah has won a 24-year long legal battle against the Bank of Zambia over US$139 191 386 that was seized in 1998 from his company Al Shams Building Materials Limited.

Zambia High Court judge Justice Edward Luputa Musona found the bank at fault, bringing an end to the long-drawn dispute.

“This is proper, particularly that the history of litigation in this case dates back to the year 1998. He is 24 years old in court. It is the Bank of Zambia which has unduly and unjustly perpetuated this case,” said the judge, while delivering his ruling.

“This dispute has been in a back and forth movement, from High Court to Supreme Court. This is sad. Litigation must have an end. Twenty-four 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.

In March 1999, the Bank of Zambia ordered its liquidation.

Al Shams Building Materials Limited and Shah instituted legal proceedings in the Zambia High Court challenging the freezing of its money, saying the seizure was unlawful and illegal. 

The court ruled in their favour.

But the bank and the Attorney-General appealed against the ruling at the Supreme Court in November 2000.

The appeal was dismissed.

The Bank of Zambia again approached the Supreme Court, and its case was once again dismissed on May 2, 2014.

After being unsuccessful on appeal twice, thereafter, 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.

The Supreme Court of Zambia ruled against the bank after refusing to reopen the case.

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