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DANPULLO/ MTN CASE : Afriland First Bank Under Penalty of 50 million FCFA per day

In a decision rendered this November 16, 2023, the Douala Court of First Instance sanctions Afriland First Bank to the cantonment of the sums housed in the “pool account”, under penalty payments of 50 million FCFA per day. This is the new twist in the case that opposes the MTN Cameroon (mobile network operator) to the Cameroonian Businessman, Baba Ahmadou Danpullo.

In fact, Afriland First Bank explains its refusal to confine by the Cemac Regulation on electronic money which enshrines the elusive nature of 126.6 billion FCFA, housed in a “pool account”. In financial jargon, the “pool account” refers to a bank account in which the operations of Mobile Money customers are processed.

Following the decision of November 16, sources internal to Afriland First Bank announced their intention to appeal this decision which did not take into account that the seized funds do not belong to MTN Cameroon or Afriland First Bank.

For the moment, the Bank of Central African States (Beac) which supports the banking sector in the context of this case has also hired a lawyer to appeal this sanction against Afriland. But the judge indicated that the immunity enjoyed by the Central Bank must first be lifted so that it can appeal for decision annulment.

This decision is also the subject of dispute by the banking system supported by the Central Bank for which Article 52 of the Cobac regulations of December 21, 2018 stipulates that « the funds received by a payment institution from customers for the provision of payment services remain the property of the customers. They can only be used for the purpose of carrying out payment transactions. They are protected against any recourse by other creditors of the payment institution, including in the event of enforcement proceedings or collective proceedings to clear the liabilities opened against the institution ».

On June 19, 2020, Danpullo’s real estate was seized and sold in South Africa by the First National Bank (FNB). According to this bank, the Cameroonian found himself in an insolvency situatio, allegations refuted by the businessman.

As a countermeasure, Danpullo seizes the Cameroonian Justice and obtains from a judge, the seizure of the bank accounts of MTN, Broadband Telecom of Collins Mukete, Mobile Money Corporation and Chococam, in order to recover what he considers as “sums maliciously distracted” by his banker First National Bank. However, according to Danpullo’s lawyers, it turns out that MTN Cameroon and Chococam are subsidiaries of the Public Investment Corporate Company (PIC), which is itself a shareholder of FirstRandBank.

Danpullo’s losses to FirstRand Bank are estimated at 200 billion FCFA in South Africa. In addition to this sum, the Cameroonian billionaire demands the payment of 23.8 billion FCFA under “unduly collected rents (21.6 billion)” and “collection costs (2.2 billion)”, as well as interest at the rate of 3.25 %. That is a total amount of 243 billion FCFA.

Sorelle Ninguem

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