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$59m award sought against Ghana’s John Taylor

John Taylor, executive chairman of Surfline Communications Ltd

A Ghanaian businessman is the subject of legal proceedings in Bermuda in relation to a $59.4 million arbitration award against him in England.

John Taylor is the executive chairman of Surfline Communications Ltd, a Ghanaian company engaged in developing high-speed internet networks in that country.

The recipient of the arbitration award has applied to the United States District Court Southern District of New York for an order authorising it to take discovery from eight US-based banks.

The applicant, Vantage Mezzanine Fund II Partnership, is organised under the laws of South Africa and is a lender providing finance to businesses across Africa.

In the New York proceedings, the applicant says, it seeks to discover information it reasonably believes to be in the hands of the respondent banks that will assist in the pending proceedings for recognition of the award in Bermuda, Italy and Malta, ancillary security, enforcement and disclosure proceedings in these jurisdictions, as well as in further court proceedings consequent on discovery from the respondent banks.

It said the requested discovery will also assist the applicant in tracing assets of Mr Taylor and his entities in any other jurisdictions where such assets may be located.

The application in New York involves a London Court of International Arbitration award.

Last December, the applicants said in filings with the New York court, the tribunal issued its final award in the LCIA arbitration finding in favour of Vantage and ordering Mr Taylor to pay a sum of $59,398,766 to Vantage forthwith.

The award arises out of a dispute over a guarantee agreement and assignments made thereunder.

The applicant said it is currently seeking recognition of the award in Bermuda, Italy, and Malta, as well as related relief in these jurisdictions.

Vantage added that further court proceedings in other jurisdictions are also contemplated, depending on the discovery obtained from the respondent banks.

The applicant has appointed Conyers Dill & Pearman as its Bermudian counsel for the purposes of recognising and collecting on the award in Bermuda against any bank accounts owned by Mr Taylor here, as well as other assets he may hold on the island – such as, the applicant says in the New York matter, shares in the Bermudian entity called Moonstone Corporation Limited.

Proceedings in Bermuda are under way. In January, the applicant says, the Supreme Court of Bermuda granted its application for leave to enforce the award in Bermuda in the same manner as a judgment or order of a Bermudian court.

In the absence of an application by Mr Taylor to set aside the enforcement order, Narinder Hargun, the Chief Justice, entered final judgment against Mr Taylor on March 31.

On the same day, following an ex parte application, the Supreme Court appointed Mathew Clingerman and Colin Wilson from the firms Kroll Bermuda Limited and Kroll Advisory (BVI) Limited, respectively, as joint receivers over Mr Taylor’s bank accounts in Bermuda and his shares in Moonstone Corporation Limited.

However, on April 6, the applicants said, Mr Taylor’s lawyers, Dentons UK and Middle East LLP, indicated that he intends to seek legal advice regarding the receivership order.

They later wrote to Vantage, the applicants said, alleging that Mr Taylor does not have bank accounts in Bermuda and that he ceased being involved in Moonstone.

Last Wednesday, the applicants said, at a return hearing in respect of the receivership order, the Supreme Court kept the receivership and the order in place until a further determination of the court.

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Published May 10, 2023 at 7:53 am (Updated May 11, 2023 at 2:49 pm)

$59m award sought against Ghana’s John Taylor

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