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30.07.2009 General News

Multi-million suit against Tigo'``Plaintiff provides evidence of dealsevidence of deals

By Ivy Benson - Ghanaian Chronicle
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Plaintiffs in a multi-million Ghana cedi legal suit against Millicom Ghana Limited, operators of TIGO Mobile Services, following alleged unlawful termination of dealership contract, has provided series of material evidence despite the denial of the Mobile Telecommunication Service Provider that an agreement existed between the parties.

Continuing his Evidence-In-Chief before an Accra High Court (Commercial Division), presided over by Justice (Mrs.) Margaret Insaidoo Welbourne yesterday, the plaintiff, Mr. Anthony Kobla Amegashie presented some material evidence, which attracted several objections from counsel for Millicom Ghana Limited, Mr. Nartey Tetteh. However, the court over ruled defendant's objection and admitted the documents into evidence.

In the face of defendant's rebuff of the assertions made by the plaintiff regarding his dealings with Millicom Ghana Limited since 2003, the witness made available two contracts signed between the parties; a 2003 contract agreement as well as a 2005 contract document.

Buttressing his stance, Mr. Amegashie told the court, the two contracts were entered into at separate times emphasizing that Millicom Ghana recommended him through a letter, dated September 11 2007, to Ecobank Ghana Limited describing him as its major dealer and stockist for the past 4 years, when he was seeking a loan from the bank.

Additionally, the witness provided a email dated November 28 2006, emanating from the defendant company and addressed to three of its dealers including himself, extending the period to produce the Tigo brand of vouchers, after they complained of short notice the mobile telecommunication service provider.

Witness, who is the director of Mobile Telecom Limited and Express Telecom Limited, told the court that Millicom Ghana Limited had four companies including Tele Data, a Lebanese company, that print its recharge vouchers, however, the three other companies that are Ghanaian-owned had their contracts terminated.

Mr. Amegashie further pointed out that defendant by a letter dated September 25 2007, the defendant appointed him as a dealer, adding that just at the expiration of the appointment letter, Millicom Ghana Limited asked him to establish a new company; Express Telecom.

According to him, no territory was assigned the new company, adding that he imported the territories from the first company, Mobile Telecom, to manage the Express Telecom with the consent of the defendant company.

Witness further indicated that the Sales Director, Mr. John Afriyie and the Southern Sector Manager, Mr. Rexford Peasah, both of the defendant company, impressed upon him to establish the new company to deal in the company's products.

Mr. Amegashie told the court that as a result of the new development, he traveled to the United Kingdom (UK) to acquire expertise in the printing of vouchers, all at his own expense, in order to print out defendant's products.

He noted that he received a sample art work of Tigo vouchers, designed by Tele Data, which is owned by a Lebanese; Gregory Monsour, through a e-mail and also addressed to two other dealers, Super Phone Company Limited and Seyman Telecom.

The sample art work, witness indicated, was to provide guidance as to how the Tigo recharge vouchers must appear but noted that the two other companies, Super phone Limited and Seyman Telecom, who also received the e-mail and sample art work of the Tigo voucher no longer work with the defendant company.

Witness also noted that he had been printing the defendant company's products without any payment made to him and when he complained to the then Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Mark Propter to be reimbursed, the latter was of the view that Millicom International Celular, the Headquarters of Millicom operations in Luxemborg would have to be notified and approved.

Sitting continues on October 28, 2008.
Mr. Amegashie, who is the director of Mobile Telecom and Express Telecom, both former distributors and printers of recharge vouchers and products of Millicom Ghana Limited is claiming a declaration of the court that the termination of the agreement between Express Telecom and Millicom Ghana Limited in the year 2008 is unlawful.

According to plaintiffs, the defendant terminated the agreement unilaterally, without recourse to the regulations governmening the agreement, noting that the actions of Millicom Ghana Limited was unconscionable and inequitable.

As a result of the unilateral termination of the agreement, plaintiffs said it had suffered great loss by ways of operational cost already instituted prior to defendant's actions.

Furthermore, plaintiffs are seeking damages for the unlawful termination of the agreement signed as well as an order for the recovery of a total sum of GH¢155,589.00 from defendants being the cost incurred in purchasing operational equipment, renting of new office premises for the printing of defendant's e-pin vouchers, three months salary to five printing staff of the 2nd plaintiff in lieu of notice of terminating their appointments, stock of branded Tigo vouchers printed for sale on behalf of defendant company and sums of monies reimbursed to customers for duplicated pins of the defendants that could not be utilized.

Plaintiffs are also claiming anticipated commission losses due Express Telecom in the sum of GH¢400,000.00 a month, till the final determination of the case, an amount of GH¢4,500.00 being interest charges that 2nd plaintiff had to pay for a loan of GH¢188,535.00 taken from its bankers together with the sum of GH¢1,430.00, being 1% of the total purchases made by the 2nd plaintiff from the defendant company on January 15, 2008.

In its statement of claim, plaintiffs noted that Mobile Telecom, being the 1st plaintiff, commenced business with the defendants since the year 2003 with a yearly renewal of business agreement.

Plaintiffs noted that in 2005, Mobile Telecom was approached by the then Sales Director of Defendant Company requesting it to investigate and procure the relevant vouchers for sale on its behalf to help expand defendant's network.

Base on this communication, plaintiffs pointed out that a representative of Mobile telecom traveled to the United Kingdom at the company's expense and obtained the appropriate technology for printing recharge vouchers according to the defendant company's specification.

It was the case of Mobile Telecom that it began printing secured e-pin vouchers of the defendant company, effective from February 2007, bearing the entire cost of papers, printers and trained personnel at its cost after it procured printer and generic computers for the operation, at a total cost of GH¢39,369.00, a rented premises at the cost of GH¢4,800.00 to secure the printing of defendant's e-vouchers and a customized pin mailer computer software costing GH¢21,000.00.

Plaintiffs noted that in July 2007 the defendant company informed all dealers in their products of their intention to introduce a new marketing system, where existing dealers would be placed into territories within the country. This resulted in the 1st plaintiff mapping out an acceptable business plan for the defendant company.

Subsequently, Mobile Telecom incorporated Express Telecom on the advice of the defendant company allocated the Greater Accra Region, Western region, Volta Region and Tema as its territories for the exclusive sale of defendant's products.

As a result of the creation of a new office located at Tema, plaintiffs noted that office equipments and personnel were transferred there in addition to a branding of the office with Tigo insignia, logo and other marketing materials which costGH¢31,000.00.

Plaintiffs were of the view that the restrictions given them by the defendant company to deal exclusively in their products were not give the Lebanese companies, who were also introduces into the business as they had the freedom to sell other products from other competing mobile telecommunication networks in the country.

According to plaintiffs, territories allocated to the 1st plaintiff were then transferred to a Lebanese company, resulting in allocating a large territory to it, while the territory for Mobile Telecom was reduced.

Plaintiffs noted that it received a letter from Defendant Company on December 18, 2007 informing dealers that it will with hold 1% of purchases of its products if 10% of a dealer's product is found in another dealer's territory adding that the defendant company further warn that if a dealer's e-pin voucher is found in another territory, the agreement will be terminated.

Plaintiffs further pointed out that it contacted other dealers and proposed to the defendant company to rescind its decision since it would be difficult to determine such actions, adding that an amount of GH¢185,535.00 it paid on January 7, 2008, into defendant company's bank account for the supply of recharge card, but were not supplied.

Plaintiffs subsequently noted that it received a letter on January 15, 2008, from the defendant, terminating the agreement between the parties after the 2nd plaintiff had made purchase of e-pin and recharge cards from Millicom Ghana Limited.

The amount of money paid into defendant's accounts for the supply of recharge cards were then paid back into plaintiff's account after 41 days following several demand letters and persistent telephone call made to officials of Millicom Ghana Limited, plaintiff asserted, noting that it had to pay GH¢4,500.00 to its bankers from where it raised a loan from to purchase the products.

It is the contention of plaintiff that in December 2007, when the first plaintiff purchased e-pin vouchers from the defendant company, it turned out later that the numbers that were sold to it had been resold to another dealer, Messrs Supper Phone, thereby creating a duplication in the system, making it impossible for its customers to utilized products bought from Mobile Telecom.

The amount of GH¢12,740.00 involved in the duplication of the e-pin vouchers claimed by the plaintiff was not reimbursed as plaintiff anticipated a loss of GH¢400,000.00 a month resulting from the termination of the agreement.

Meanwhile, Millicom Ghana Limited had denied all the assertions made by the plaintiffs noting that the plaintiff suffered all the alleged losses as a result of the actions of the second plaintiff of territorial invasion in default of the agreement.

According to the defendant, it had been informed about territorial invasions on the part of the second plaintiff, breaching the dictates of the agreement signed, stressing that it could not be held liable for their losses.

Millicom Ghana Limited further stated that “it received complaints from a dealer that some of the defendant's vouchers printed by the dealer and sold to the second plaintiff also could not be loaded.

Upon further investigation, the defendant detected that those vouchers were duplicated but were sold by the said dealer and the second plaintiff and utilized by purchasers. The defendant, therefore, instructed the dealer to return the defective vouchers for replacement.”

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