Published On: Fri, Mar 3rd, 2023

Tricky business

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By Hilbert Haar

People in Curacao were surprised by the offer of Hushang Ansary’s attorney to abide by a ruling from the Court in First Instance from November 2021. I was not surprised. I was stunned, because said ruling sentenced Ansary and a few others to pay insurance company Ennia more than a billion guilders (around $583 million). The appeal against that ruling is scheduled to take place later this month.

See related article: Ansary announces he is ready to abide by billion-dollar court ruling

So what game is Ansary playing this time? Buying time? That is one thought that came to mind when I read that his company Parman wants to hold “appropriate meetings” with the Central Bank (Ennia’s supervisor) to formulate a process for the timely completion of a settlement.

The Central Bank has not yet publicly reacted to Ansary’s surprise move but I expect it to be something like this. “Formulate a process? We don’t need a process. We need the money. If you want to abide by the court ruling, pay. If you want to talk instead, we’ll see you in court this month.”

The court ruling of November 2021 has cornered Ansary. He has nowhere to go, except to the appeals court and given the fact that he has now offered to settle suggests that he does not want to go there. The 95-year old American-Iranian businessman has nothing to win on appeal and everything to lose.

One may wonder what Ansary thinks to achieve with appropriate meetings. It sounds very much like an attempt to negotiate. But negotiate what? An arrangement to pay in installments? A discount?

In the background plays another issue: the lawsuit his daughter Nina has filed in the District Court for the District of Columbia. It feels like a rather frivolous lawsuit, but still. If she sticks to it, the Central Bank will have to spend money on attorneys and travel and it will have to suffer bad publicity because Ansary has accused the Central Bank of unlawfully retaining control of private assets. Fodder for conspiracy theorists.

There are three possible outcomes. The first, and most unlikely, is that the Central Bank will agree to hold appropriate meetings with authorized representatives of Parman. What do these guys have to offer? Dropping Nina Ansary’s lawsuit in exchange for an arrangement to pay one billion guilders in installments? No way is the Central Bank going to agree with that kind of corporate blackmail.

The second and also unlikely possibility is that Ansary will give up completely and fork over all the money in one go. End of story. Knowing a bit of Ansary’s history, that is not gonna happen either.

So the sad but inevitable conclusion must be that Parman’s representatives will find themselves in court again sometime this month with an attempt to get the November 2021 court ruling thrown out.

Appealing a court ruling is tricky business, because the higher court is going to do the whole procedure all over again from the beginning. Maybe the judges will find a reason to lower the amount of money Ansary and his co-conspirators will have to pay. But that is a big maybe. It is equally possible that they find reason to sentence the defendants to pay back even more money. Whatever the outcome, such a court case will mean more bad publicity for the defendants. and sure enough, taking part in such a judicial circus is going to cost the Central Bank money too. The attorneys will be happy because their payday is guaranteed.

And what if the appeal ruling turns against Ansary? He will still have to pay and the Central Bank will, still be waiting for the money insurance company Ennia is entitled to.

A piece of advice for the defendants in this theft-of-the-century case: give it up. Be a man, acknowledge your mistakes and pony up.

Am I not allowed to dream as well?


Photo caption: Hushang Ansary outside courthouse in Curacao. Archive photo AntilliaansDagblad Oct 2021.

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