In a statement more than 24 hours after it locked down its headquarters during a move by the High Court to levy on its assets, the New Building Society Limited (NBS) is now claiming that security concerns forced its decision to lock down the building.
The bank is also claiming that it plans to “safeguard” the $59 Million cheque that it paid out to its former CEO following the standoff with Court Marshals and the Police.
Yesterday, staff members and customers were locked in and the Police and Attorneys locked out for over three hours during a move by Marshals to seize $59 million worth of the bank’s assets in keeping with a court ruling to award the money to its former CEO, Maurice Arjoon, for wrongful dismissal.
In a statement this afternoon, NBS said that around 12.30 p.m. on Tuesday, January 23, 2018, “a group of men came to the back entrance of the Society’s Office and opened the door of a Nissan Vehicle, owned by the Society and driven by an employee. They ordered the employee out of the vehicle and forcibly took the keys and took possession of the said vehicle.”
The bank said at the same time persons were seen coming out of a vehicle with building and breaking equipment outside of the Society’s building perimeter.
“This caused some panic among employees of the Society who thought that a robbery was about to take place. Several cashiers moved away from their posts and the management quickly took a decision to lock down the entity. Subsequently, members of the Guyana Police Force arrived and management was informed that the persons who took possession of the vehicle and were in and around the Head Office were marshals of the Supreme Court.”
According to the bank, “in the midst of the commotion and the absence of a court order being produced, the management took a decision to safeguard the cash while giving customers an opportunity to orderly leave the bank through one entrance. The NBS at no time prevented persons from leaving the office and in an effort to ensure the safety of cash, there was some inconvenience”.
But customers were only allowed to leave more than two hours after the lockdown was ordered and the bank refused to open its doors even when very senior Police Officers arrived on the scene.
The bank said it is yet to see the Court levy order, but its Attorney was on the outside throughout the standoff meeting with the Police and the Attorneys for Mr. Arjoon. She appeared well aware of the Court order, but maintained that the action “ought not” to have taken place.
The NBS claims that the Court marshals and others came in unidentified like ‘thieves in the night’ in an unprofessional manner that resulted in the panic, chaos and misunderstanding which took place.
The Society now says if it were properly served with any instrument or order of the court, it would have readily complied with such an order or instructions.
A number of mangers of the bank were arrested last evening following the standoff, as Police launched a probe into inlawful imprisonment.