THE Bank of Zambia (BoZ) has reportedly dropped Nchito and Nchito as external legal advisors following a scathing indictment by the Supreme Court which condemned legal advice that would have concealed wrongdoing in the matter involving the liquidation of Access Financial Services Limited (AFSL) and Access Leasing Limited (ALL).
But when contacted for a comment over the development, BoZ head of public relations Kanguya Mayondi declined to comment.
However, sources within the institution told the Daily Nation that the bank parted ways with the legal firm which had been representing the bank at the same time that Mutembo Nchito was chief prosecutor for the task force on corruption.
Earlier the Supreme Court had ruled that legal professional privilege as argued by Nchito could be used as a defence by the Bank of Zambia (BoZ) in concealing evidence of mismanagement in the liquidation process of Access Financial Services (AFS) and Access Leasing Limited (ALL).
The Supreme Court had also ruled that it would not be in the public interest to allow the Bank of Zambia, a public institution, to purposely refrain from disciplining its officer Marshall Mwansopelo because the bank feared that his evidence might assist Access Financial Services Limited and Access Leasing Limited in proving allegations of mismanagement of the liquidation process.
AFS and ALL were being represented by John Sangwa and K. Chenda of Simeza Sangwa and Associates.
The Bank of Zambia appealed to the Supreme Court against the ruling of the High Court on the mismanagement of the liquidation of the two companies on grounds of legal professional privilege and that its officer was not guilty in the alleged mismanagement of the liquidation process.
This is in a case in which the Bank of Zambia had appealed against the High Court which ruled that Mr Mwansopelo, the former liquidation manager of AFS and ALL, had misconducted himself in liquidating the two companies.
The bank feared that proceeding with Mr Mwansopelo disciplinary hearing was going to result in unfavourable judgment against the Central Bank which ran in colossal sums of money. But the Supreme Court ruled that confidential communication between a client and his legal adviser are not privileged if made for the purpose of committing a fraud or crime or when both are engaged in the commission of some wrongful act.
Supreme Court Judge Irene Mambilima who is Chief Justice sitting with Evans Hamaundu and Royda Kaoma upheld the High Court judgment after dismissing the Bank of Zambia appeal with costs. The Supreme Court ruled that the policy consideration for the grant of legal professional privilege had been outweighed in the case by the gravity of the wrongful act of the Bank of Zambia in advising management that it should conceal evidence of mismanagement of the liquidation of AFS and ALL. In the High Court ruling on the matter, it was judged that a prima facie case had been established against the Bank of Zambia lawyers for advising management to take disciplinary action against Mr Mwansompelo who was found to be an errant officer.
This comes shortly after Supreme Court chastised the bank and its lawyers for deliberately failing to discipline Marshall Mwansompelo, the liquidation manager of AFSL and ALL, who had been charged with serious offences because they were worried that he (Mwansompelo) would ‘spill the beans’.