Cameroon labour union warns MTN account seizure could fuel unrest
Cameroon’s largest private sector lobby group, the Cameroon Employers’ Organisation (GICAM) has expressed “deep concern” following a recent court order compelling Afriland First Bank to freeze money held in MTN Cameron’s Mobile Money Pool Account.
Célestin Tawamba, President of GICAM, said the decision was taken with no regard to banking regulation in the sub-region and poses major risks to social cohesion and peace.
“It is well known that the funds that pass through the digital platforms of the operators of electronic communications network belong to the holders of electronic money accounts in the books of these operators, and are not their property,” Tawamba said, adding that bank accounts housing such funds are exempt from seizure under Bank of Central African States (BEAC) rules.
The GICAM leader warned that the failure to enforce the law is likely to fuel discontent that could lead to unrest among citizens who would be unjustly deprived of their hard-earned resources in their mobile accounts.
“GICAM can’t keep quiet about this issue regarding the harmful consequences that such a decision would have on the attractiveness of investments in Cameroon,” Tawamba underscored, calling on judicial authorities to reverse the order.
The drawn-out matter emanates from an ongoing case in South African High Court involving Cameroonian business mogul Ahmadou Baba Danpullo and his South African company Bestinver Holdings and First National Bank (FNB).
In the matter, FNB, which was owed R507 million by Danpullo’s companies, launched applications for the winding-up of the companies; and on 19 June 2020, the companies were placed in provisional business rescue, before the order was made final on 26 October 2020.
In response, Danpullo cried foul alleging discrimination, as his real estate portfolio reportedly valued at R4 billion was liquidated for the R507 million owed to the bank.
FNB denied the allegation, saying the move was strictly a normal business decision to recoup monies owed to the bank.
Danpullo then approached courts in his home country and was granted a garnishee order on accounts of MTN, claiming it is a subsidiary of the Public Investment Corporate, which he says is also a shareholder in FNB.