SML seeks GH¢10 million in damages over alleged defamation

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Strategic Mobilization Limited (SML), a revenue assurance company, has taken legal action against The Fourth Estate and investigative journalist, Manasseh Azure, for alleged defamation.

The lawsuit, filed in the High Court of Justice, accuses the defendants of publishing defamatory content that has caused significant harm to SML’s reputation and financial standing.

 According to court documents, SML claims that the defendants published a documentary on YouTube titled ‘The GH¢3 billion Lie & the billion-dollar contract’, which purportedly accused SML of deceit regarding its contracts with the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).

The documentary, along with subsequent articles published by The Fourth Estate, allegedly portrayed SML’s contracts with the GRA as “shady” and “questionable”, insinuating fraudulent activities.

However, SML asserts that these publications have led to a widespread negative perception of the company, resulting in public outrage and distrust. The lawsuit further alleges that despite issuing rebuttals to the defendants’ claims, they continued to publish defamatory material, exacerbating the damage to SML’s reputation.

In response, SML is seeking redress through the legal system. The company is demanding GH¢10million in damages, comprising GH¢1million for general damages for defamation and GH¢9million for exemplary damages due to the alleged reckless and malicious nature of the defendants’ reporting.

Additionally, SML is seeking a perpetual injunction to restrain the defendants from publishing further defamatory material and a retraction and apology with the same coverage, means, and prominence as the original publications.

In a December 2023 investigative report, The Fourth Estate alleged irregularities in a purported 10-year contract between SML, GRA, and the Ministry of Finance, with an annual payment of US$ 100 million.

SML swiftly denied the claim, insisting that its contract duration with GRA was five years, not ten as alleged.

The GRA, in a statement on December 20, 2023, corroborated SML’s stance, stating that proper procurement procedures were followed.

Following sustained public discourse, on January 3, 2024, SML welcomed President Akufo-Addo’s directive to suspend its ongoing revenue assurance operations and undergo an audit of its contracts with GRA and the Ministry of Finance.

President Akufo-Addo appointed KPMG, an esteemed audit, tax, and advisory services firm, to conduct an immediate audit.

However, President Akufo-Addo extended the audit timeframe following a request from KPMG.

SML expressed confidence that the audit would provide a transparent and accurate depiction of its operations.

Source: thebftonline.com

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