​S. Sudan Govt ‘dragged’ in SSP 45​ billion Air Afrik-Stanbic Bank court battle in Kenya

​S. Sudan Govt ‘dragged’ in SSP 45​ billion Air Afrik-Stanbic Bank court battle in Kenya
Air Afrik

The South Sudan government has found itself in the middle of a multi-billion legal battle pitting a local firm and a Kenyan bank.

Air Afrik Aviation Limited is seeking 45 billion compensation from Stanbic Bank Kenya Limited over a deal gone bad.

The aviation firm had allegedly been contracted by President Salva Kiir administration eight years ago to provide chartered flight services.

Air Afrik Aviation said it offers airline carriage and chartered flight services in South Sudan and the east African region. Its main route is Nairobi-Juba.

Now before a Commercial Court in Nairobi, Kenya, Air Afrik has sued the bank for allegedly reversing the money paid by the South Sudanese government, for the services rendered between 2014 and 2016.

Initially, the case between Stanbic Bank Kenya Limited and Air Afrik Aviation Limited, which is before Commercial Court Judge David Majanja, revolved around Sh1.4 billion.

But Air Afrik Aviation went back to court seeking to amend its case to about 45 billion SSP billion, citing an audit done on its financial books, the Standard Newspaper reported.

It claimed that in 2014, the South Sudan government inked a deal to lease several aircraft for a year but with the likelihood of being extended for five years.

According to the firm, the total cost for the deal was around eight billion South Sudanese Pound. The agreement, according to court papers as reported by standard, was renewed and the South Sudan government committed to pay a 35 per cent deposit, which was at least 3 billion SSP.

The firm said that it maintained an account with Stanbic Bank in Juba.

The South Sudanese government allegedly wired the money on February 8, 2016.

But according to Air Afrik, the lender reversed the transaction on May 27, 2016, on the claim that the money had been paid in error, Standard reported.

The company claims that the bank first wired back about 2.4 billion SSP and then debited close to Sh400 million from its account.

Air Afrik claims that it had lost money plus the business before pleading with the court to amend court papers to rectify the amount of money it is seeking as damages and loss of benefit suffered.

Justice Majanja heard that a financial projection report quantified the loss to be $80 million instead of the amount earlier claimed.

But Stanbic opposed the application, arguing that the amendments were not genuine and were only meant to delay the hearing of the case.

According to the lender, the case was filed in 2018 but Air Afrik Aviation only lodged an application to amend the case in March this year.

Stanbic accused Air Afrik Aviation of litigating its case in batches.

The bank asserted that the company has always been aware of the facts of the case and therefore there was no reason for the delay to amend its application.​​

The bank also argued that it would suffer financial losses if the application was allowed. It said the application will require it to return to the drawing board and source for more witnesses.

After hearing the rival arguments, Justice Majanja noted that although Air Afrik Aviation had waited before filing its application he would allow the petition to be amended.

Story was first published on the Standard Digital