James Grech, the longest-serving member on the board of directors of Bank of Valletta (BOV), is to remain locked out of any future board meetings, as the Court decided not to lift the bank’s decision to ban his presence.
After filing an urgent request to issue a prohibitory injunction, stopping BOV from implementing “a new policy”, the Civil Court, presided by Judge Miriam Hayman, turned down the request.
According to the Court, it was too late to issue an injunction as the bank had already decided and could not retroactively apply it.
The court’s reasoning mirrored arguments by BOV’s lawyers, who insisted that “once a decision on the new policy had already been made, the court had no power to stop it through an injunction”.
Grech can take the issue further by challenging the bank’s new policy through a separate case, although this could take years to be decided.
Grech, who has been sitting on the BOV’s board since 2004, was locked out of participating in any future meetings of its board through a new policy approved in his absence.
Through a company announcement on 6 December, BOV said it had recently approved a policy whereby a director of the bank who has ongoing legal procedures against the bank or any of its subsidiaries while still in office shall immediately withdraw from participating in board meetings while the case is still ongoing in court.
Announcing the policy’s implementation “with immediate effect”, the bank referred to an ongoing case filed against the bank by Grech.
James Grech is the only BOV board member with a case against the financial institution, so the new policy only affects him.
Court proceedings revealed that BOV decided during a meeting on 28 November, several weeks before its official company announcement. Grech was asked to withdraw from the discussion during that meeting but was not given a reason.
Grech then filed his request in court on 5 December, one day before the official announcement. Despite this, the court maintained it was too late.
Last year, Grech, a Labour party election candidate, started court proceedings against BOV seeking compensation for claims of “lies, manipulation and false declarations” by senior board officials and bank executives.
The case is ongoing.
BOV is currently in the spotlight over selling some non-performing loans to a company involving its former chairman, Deo Scerri. The bank said the portfolio, valued at some €100 million, was sold for just €26 million.
While the bank refused to divulge any details on this transaction, The Shift revealed that the portfolio was sold to 3514 Capital SCC and its connections to Scerri.