ST GEORGE’S, Grenada — In what must be a landmark decision, a tiny Grenadian accounting firm, Louison Consulting, has defeated the multi-national PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in a case before the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) High Court.
According to a judgment handed down by Justice Margaret Mohammed on Friday, May 3, 2013, at the OECS High Court, the judge held that PwC was not entitled to be treated as a preferential creditor for expenses incurred while defending lawsuits brought against them in negligence during their controllership of an offshore bank in Grenada.
PwC was appointed the controller of Bank Crozier Ltd (BCL) by the minister of finance in August 2002. After several extensions of this appointment, it was superseded by the appointment of Garvey Louison, chartered certified accountant, of Louison Consulting as the liquidator of BCL by order of Madame Justice Pemberton on July 24, 2003.
By way of suit no. 2003/255, PwC claimed that the liquidator must indemnify it against all acts committed while acting as controller of BCL and, further, that such claim must rank in priority over all other claims in the liquidation.
This argument was defeated at the High Court by way of ruling issued by Pemberton J in November 2003.
PwC appealed this decision. After several years of legal submissions and administrative delays, the Court of Appeal in civil suit no.1 of 2007 ruledagainst PwC on 20 November 2007.
In an apparent effort to circumvent the ruling of the court, PwC instituted proceedings against Garvey Louison, this time by way of a claim filed with the then Minister of Finance Nazim Burke for a sum in excess of US$12.3 million in November 2008 and then assigned the same claim to PwC under the hand of the minister.
Louison argued that by any figment of the imagination this was the same claim already defeated in the court of appeal and therefore was destined to fail and that the only purpose of the flawed assignment was to negate the earlier ruling of the court.
In January of 2012, PwC applied to the court for the committal of the liquidator on the ground of his failure to honour its claim. The committal order was sought even though PwC were well aware that the liquidator does not act in a personal capacity but is a servant and officer of the court.
Not only does the liquidator report to the court frequently and regularly but is bound to apply to the court from time to time for directions in the conduct of his affairs and in accordance with the terms of his appointment.
At the High Court on May 3, 2013 Madame Justice Margaret Mohammed dismissed all PwC arguments, with costs awarded to Louison Consulting.