Court of Appeal Judge, Justice Charles Edward Ekow Baiden has won a defamation case against French Based Business Woman Bire Marie-Dominique for accusing him of fraud and theft.
Sources revealed that the damages sought in the defamation suit was GH₵10 million but lawyers for the French Business Woman pleaded for mitigation and after the apologies and retraction the court awarded GH₵2 million in the defamation case.
The defamation suit which was initiated in February 2022 was as a result of a series of defamatory letters the business woman wrote to a number of institutions such as the police, Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO), the Office of the President and the Chief Justice, accusing the judge of fraud and theft in a property buying transaction belonging to the judge.
The Business Woman also wrote to the judge’s bank and alleging that the judge had received fraudulent payment into his account, a petition which resulted in a temporary blocking of the judge’s bank account.
The woman has since appealed the case concerning the withholding of an amount of $190,000 in the possession of Judge.
It will be recalled that the allegation of fraud was sourced from the Facebook page of Mensah Thompson of ASEPA in which the French Business Woman, Bire Marie-Domique accused the Appeal Court Judge of defrauding her to the sum of $190,000.
According to investigative journalist Manasseh Azuri Awuni, in the police extract that Mensah Thompson posted, the woman claims the judge increased the price of the building from $190,000 to $250,000 and refused to sign the lease agreement.
However, her petition to the Office of the Special Prosecutor “indicates that she opted out of the transaction because there was a disagreement in the number of years of the unexpired lease since she is a foreigner and could not get beyond 50 years of the unexpired lease”.
He found out that Marie-Dominique expressed interest in a property that belonged to the judge and his wife; got her lawyer to do due diligence on the property and when she was satisfied with the documents, paid the money in two installments in March 2021 and took possession of the keys to the property, pending the signing of the lease agreement.
The ace journalist, therefore, concluded that “there is nothing to show that it was the judge who refused to sign the agreement. I have tried to ask questions and get clarity on the contradictions of the woman making the allegations, but I’m yet to be satisfied.”
“There is also no evidence that the judge had increased the price of the property. This does not come up in any of the extensive exchanges between the parties involved or the lawyers acting on either side of the transaction.
“In any case, I found it strange that a seller who handed over the keys of the property to the buyer and allowed the buyer to take possession would not want to sign the agreement after taking his payment.
“It is also strange that the buyer would still want to proceed with the transaction after realising that the price had been increased from $190,000 to $250,000, and that it was the seller’s refusal to sign that stopped the deal,” he added.
She says in December 2021, the judge asked to repossess or take over his property and sell it to someone else since she was no longer interested in buying it.
In April 2022, (a year since the woman had taken possession of the property) the judge sold the property to a medical doctor for $190,000. (Note that it was still the same price at which it was sold to the woman, not the $250,000 she claims the judge had increased it to).
Lawyers for the buyer wrote to the seller/the judge to refund the money to their clients since the property had now been sold to a different buyer after the woman opted out of the deal a year ago.
In May 2022, the buyer, through her power of attorney, wrote to the institutions to retract and apologise for the defamatory statements against the judge.
“After carefully perusing the documents, however, I concluded that what I had been told and the documents I had were not enough to do the story. People have worked hard for their reputation and unless I have a good reason to do so, I will not publish their names with the allegations, a reason I’ve still been engaging the complainant’s sources,” the investigative journalist noted in a Facebook post on Saturday, August 5.
He noted that he reached out to the “brother” of the complainant whose submissions to him indicates no case of fraud as alleged.
“In a chronology of events sent to Mr. Azuri by the supposed brother of the buyer (a France-based Senegalese woman), this is what she wrote:
“April/May 2021: Upon my arrival in Accra to sign the Lease Agreement, the seller changes the terms (purchase price, sub-lease agreement duration), and refuses to sign the contracts. I raise the issue via email with my lawyer, who insists on engaging with various parties to finalize the deal (see emails).’” he stated.
Further arguing out his point, he noted that in an April 2022 letter, the lawyer of the woman, Roberts Ekor Dassah, stated that her client “resiled the sale agreement” due to some “irreconcilable reasons” and per findings, the word “resile” means abandon a position or a course of action”.
The initial lawyer of the woman, the police who started the investigation, the woman’s power of attorney etc, have all been accused of one compromise or the other by the business woman.
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