To unfreeze a bank account in Cameroon, the customer account must have been frozen or put on hold by the bank or the state prosecutor. When a bank account is frozen, the customer is unable to access their bank account balance or make any payment from the account.
The bank can freeze a bank account for various reasons ranging from customers’ requests for the account to be frozen to prevent fraud or by order of the Court served on a bank through a law enforcement agency. This brief write-up will focus on freezing of an account based on the order of the Court, and how such an account may be unfrozen where the order ought not to have been granted.
Freezing of Bank Account in Cameroon
This reason is one of the critical and popular reasons for a bank account to be frozen. Banks are obligated to act as instructed when issued an instruction to freeze an account under a Court Order through the legal department, Police, National Anti- Corruption Commission (CONAC) or other law enforcement agencies on the basis that the account is under investigation. In some circumstances, such orders may restrict the bank from informing the customer involved when such an account is frozen.
In some cases, where any law enforcement agency has frozen someone’s bank account and filed charges against the account holder in any court, such a customer may not be able to unfreeze a bank account in Cameroon until the trial has been concluded.
Under the provisions of Decree No. 2006/088 on march 11,2006, the law enforcement agency may ask the Court to permanently forfeit any frozen money to the government where no person claims the money after the publication of the ex-parte order in a national newspaper, or where any person whose money is in his account cannot justify or explain how he acquired the money legitimately.
However, there are circumstances where the Court granted such an order based on inaccurate information from a security agency. In such an event, the affected account holder may seek the order of the Court vacating the initial order freezing the account.
Freezing of Bank Account by judgement of court
A frozen bank account can be unfrozen by approaching the particular Court granting the order or any court of jurisdiction to set the same order aside and unfreeze a bank account. Therefore, the first step to unfreeze a bank account that has been frozen by order of the Court as a result of suspicion activities:
- Hire a lawyer to investigate the specific order freezing the account.
- The lawyer shall write an official pre-action notice and demand letter requesting the account to be unfreeze. This forms the basis for his case.
- The lawyer should cause a bailiff to visit the bank to draw up an audition report.
- File court an originating process and attached all justification to proof funds is legitimate through your lawyer counselling.
The law enforcement agencies or banks lack the power to unilaterally freeze a customer’s account based on a pending criminal investigation or commission of a crime without a court order; this was the decision of the Court in the case of Tembe Alain Ambo v BICEC BANK Molyko Branch in which “The bank unilaterally blocked the account Tembe Alain Ambo without justification. He hired the law firm of kinsmen Advocates represented by Mafany Victor Ngando Esq who filed an originating process pursuant to Section 18 of Law No 2006/015 of the 29/12/2006, Section 11 of the Southern Cameroon High Court Rules and Order 34 of the supreme court civil procedure rules cap 211. The learned counsel was able to justify that his client funds are legitimate. The précising judge Denis Abonifor ordered than bank to unfreeze the account and awarded damages as he finds the act of the bank diabolical, unconstitutional and unorthodox”
Finally, a frozen account means that the bank customer will not have the right to access to his funds in the account for withdrawal, deposit, and other related transactions until the situation which warranted the freezing of the account is resolved. To unfreeze a bank account frozen on the order of a court, the affected account holder can approach the Court to vacate the order. The Court may unfreeze the Court only if the Judge is satisfied that the order was granted erroneously or as a result of misrepresentation of facts by the law enforcement agency that obtained the initial order freezing the Court.
Article by Barr. Mafany Victor Ngando
“The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstance”