Law News
Court asks Ecobank to pay former CEO $11.6m

A court in Togo on Tuesday awarded the former Chief Executive of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, Mr. Thierry Tanoh, a sum of $11.6m in his wrongful dismissal suit.

Ecobank’s board had last March fired Tanoh after months of turmoil over allegations that he allowed breaches of corporate governance.

Last month a court in Ivory Coast awarded him $15m for defamation over a row in the run-up to his dismissal.

The bank, however, said it would appeal the ruling.

A statement by the pan-African lender said, “Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, the parent company of the Ecobank Group, is appealing a Togolese labour court decision awarding its dismissed former Chief Executive Officer Thierry Tanoh $11.6m in alleged damages for supposed ‘wrongful dismissal.’ The decision is disappointing but not surprising.

“ETI does not accept the legitimacy of the Togolese court’s ruling because the court does not have any legal jurisdiction over Tanoh’s employment contract. Tanoh signed this contract before assumption of his post as Ecobank Group’s CEO in July 2012 in the full knowledge that it was governed by English law.

“The contract expressly provides that all disputes shall be settled by international arbitration in London by an arbitrator appointed by the President of the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris. The contract grants exclusive jurisdiction to the English courts in relevant matters. Tanoh, an Ivorian national with permanent residence in the United States during his tenure as ETI Group CEO, rejected these express provisions of his contract, preferring instead to pursue litigation in a Togolese court for reasons best known to him.

“ETI has lodged a criminal complaint against Tanoh for taking away all official files that he handled as Group CEO of Ecobank, and for deleting all electronic files from the official computers that he used.

“ETI is confident that it will win its appeal of this judgment, and it continues to keep its focus on its most fundamental priorities, which include the business of banking, doing well by its staff, its customers and its shareholders. Ecobank continues to enjoy strong performance and high shareholder confidence. Ultimately, it is a unique pan-African.”

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