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UK POLICE SHUN DIAMOND BANK’S N6 BILLION BAD LOAN CASE

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Okogbule recounted how the portfolio investors obtained an unsecured loan of N6 billion from Diamond Bank in 2007, a sum he alleged the bank helped the expatriates to launderto the UK.
United Kingdom’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) “can neither confirm nor deny” its interest in a N6 billion alleged fraud case in which Allan Dick West Africa (ADWA) Limited allegedly made away with the unsecured loan granted by Diamond Bank.
ADWA has since been liquidated.
Joint liquidators of the UK firm, Akinwunmi & Busari and Ihegwoazu & Co, had set aside N200 million from the N750 million MTN Nigeria paid to settle debts ADWA owed local contractors.
The liquidators said they would use the money to prosecute the case in the UK against the parent company, Allan Dick Company (ADC) Limited, UK.
But the principal partners of the two law firms, Akinwunmi and Ihegwoazu, disclosed in an exclusive interview that the cost of prosecuting the case is more than the budgeted N200 million.
They said they opted to work with the SFO,the equivalent in Nigeria of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
But an SFO official TheNiche contacted said she could not confirm if the SFO has any interest in the case, even though the Nigerian lawyers claimed they had solicited the assistance of the crime buster.
An email sent to Nilima Fox, SFO Head of Media Department, read: “Joint liquidators of Allan Dick West Africa, Akinwunmi&Busari and Ihegwoazu& Co, both legal practitioners in Nigeria, said they have since applied to your office for assistance to bring the suspects to book.
“Please kindly oblige us with information on the progress you have made in your investigation. We request for facts, figures and statements on the case. Or is the case closed?”
Fox quickly replied that he was out of the office and advised that his colleague in the SFO press office, Susan Givens, be contacted.
Eventually, however, it was Jina Roe who responded to the enquiry. She wrote: “Without wishing to be unhelpful, I can neither confirm nor deny SFO interest in this matter.”
TheNiche pressed for precise information on the cross border transaction in which the UK firm allegedly transferred huge sums of money into personal and corporate accounts at a time it claimed to be insolvent.
The SFO replied, “We have no further comment.”
The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, West and Gate (W&G) Limited, Paul Okogbule, and other local contractors affected by the case decided on a legal action against Akinwunmi&Busari and Ihegwoazu& Co, Diamond Bank, and all those on the other side of the matter.
A letter written to ADWA’s liquidators, Akinwunmi and Ihegwoazu, by Citi Lawyers (solicitors to West and Gate and the contractors of Allan Dick), demanded a refund of N200 million to the local subcontractors of ADWA.
Another letter to Diamond Bank also demanded a refund of N150 million to the subcontractors.
Both letters are dated December 19, 2013.
They demanded a refund of N200 million “illegally deducted by yourself and Mr. Victor Ihekweazu of the firm of Akinwunmi & Busari and Ihekweazu and Co respectively from the amount paid by MTN to our clients.
“Your failure to comply with the above demand within seven clear days of your receipt of this letter will leave us with the option of taking the appropriate legal steps in a competent court of law.”
The letter to Diamond Bank demanded a refund of N150 million “illegally deducted by your bank officials from the amount paid by MTN to our clients.
“Your bank’s failure to comply with the above demand within seven clear days of your receipt of this letter will leave us with the options of forwarding our petitions to the appropriate authorities and instituting legal action in a competent court of law.”
The contractors detailed how Diamond Bank lost N6 billion to ADWA, a telecommunications services firm promoted by ADC, its parent company in the UK.
Okogbule recounted in Lagos how the portfolio investors obtained an unsecured loan of N6 billion from Diamond Bank in 2007, a sum he alleged the bank helped the expatriates to launder to the UK.
ADWA commenced liquidation without repaying the loan and paying contractors who worked on MTN base stations.
The contractors alleged that Diamond Bank and its appointed liquidators short-changed the subcontractors that executed the work, paying them about N4 million each regardless of what they were owed.
The contractors alleged that contrary to bank rules, Diamond Bank, instead of going after its N6 billion loan, took a lion share from N850 million MTN paid to the local subcontractors of ADWA.
They alleged that the bank did this after it claimed to have written off the loan or sold it to the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).
Investigation showed that the liquidators of ADC paid N150 million dividend to Diamond Bank.
During the banking industry audit in 2009, Diamond Bank had concealed the unsecured loan from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and as a result failed to sell same to AMCON.
Diamond Bank’s last financial result does not state that it wrote the loan off or sold it to AMCON in the wake of reforms initiated by suspended Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)Governor Lamido Sanusi.
Also, the financial results of Diamond Bank for 2011 and 2012 do not report the recovery of the N150 million.
Despite appropriating N200 million of the N750 million MTN paid, the liquidators of ADWA did not take legal action against ADC in the UK.
The liquidators, who met in April last year with the creditors of ADWA, said in an interview that they could not initiate legal proceedings in the UK against British directors of ADC because it would cost huge sums of money.
But Okogbule, whose contract is worth over N17 million, countered that Diamond Bank may have decided to let sleeping dogs lie, having lost interest in the recovery of the loan.
He disclosed that two of the local contractors have died as a result of their inability to repay loans used to execute the contracts for MTN on behalf of ADWA.
Efforts to get Diamond Bank to respond to inquiries yielded no result.
The bank said after a meeting between journalists and its corporate communication executives and media consultants, TPT,that it would give an official response.
It is yet to do so.
When contacted, MTN General Manager (Corporate Affairs), Olufunmilayo Onajide, explained that the Allan Dick transaction ended up in a Lagos high court where the suit between the company’s liquidators and MTN was decided.

@ The Niche.

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Nigerian Bank MD’s colluded with government officials to re-loot recovered Abacha loot – EFCC

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has accused commercial banks of colluding with government officials to re-loot recovered loot of the late dictator, Sani Abacha.

In December 2017, the Federal Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Switzerland on the return and monitoring of the $322 million Abacha loot.

The proceeds were intended for Conditional Cash Transfer under the Social Investment Programme which began in December 2016, under ex-president Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

The looted funds were meant to provide N5,000 monthly stipends to the most vulnerable Nigerians across the country.

However, on Sunday, a spokesperson for the EFCC, Dele Oyewale, in a statement, said that the anti-graft agency opened investigations into other alleged financial malpractices from the ministry; involving the COVID-19 funds and the World Bank- assisted loan coordinated by the Humanitarian Ministry to assist poor Nigerians.

The EFCC said, “Discreet investigations by the EFCC have opened other fraudulent dealings involving COVID -19 funds, the World Bank loan, Abacha recovered loot released to the ministry by the Federal Government to execute its poverty alleviation mandate. Investigations have also linked several interdicted and suspended officials of the ministry to the alleged financial malfeasance.

“It is instructive to stress that the commission’s investigations are not about individuals. The EFCC is investigating a system and intricate web of fraudulent practices. Banks involved in the alleged fraud are being investigated. Managing directors of the indicted banks have made useful statements to investigators digging into the infractions. Those found wanting will be prosecuted accordingly. Additionally, the EFCC has not cleared anyone allegedly involved in the fraud. Investigations are ongoing and advancing steadily. The public is enjoined to ignore any claim to the contrary.’’

The commission also revealed that N32.7 billion and $445,000 had been recovered from both past and suspended officials of the humanitarian ministry.

It added that the commission initiated investigations into the affairs of the humanitarian ministry inviting former minister, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, and her successor, Beta Edu, suspended by President Bola Tinubu in January for alleged abuse of office.

 

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EFCC recovers N32.7bn, $445,000, faults Betta Edu, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, Halima Shehu

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC has faulted suspended Humanitarian Minister, Betta Edu, her predecessor, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, and the Coordinator of the National Social Insurance Programmes Agency, Halima Shehu, while revealing that a combined total of N32.7bn and $445,000 has been recovered so far from ministry.

The commission made the development known on Sunday via its official X handle in response to rumours concerning the progress of its investigations into the alleged financial misappropriation in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

The statement signed by the spokesperson for the EFCC, Dele Oyewale, read, “The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has noticed the rising tide of commentaries, opinions, assumptions and insinuations concerning its progressive investigations into the alleged financial misappropriation in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

“At the outset of investigations, past and suspended officials of the Humanitarian Ministry were invited by the Commission and investigations into the alleged fraud involving them have yielded the recovery of N32.7billion and $445,000 so far.

“Discreet investigations by the EFCC have opened other fraudulent dealings involving Covid -19 funds, the World Bank loan, Abacha recovered loot released to the Ministry by the Federal Government to execute its poverty alleviation mandate. Investigations have also linked several interdicted and suspended officials of the Ministry to the alleged financial malfeasance.

“It is instructive to stress that the Commission’s investigations are not about individuals. The EFCC is investigating a system and intricate web of fraudulent practices. Banks involved in the alleged fraud are being investigated. Managing Directors of the indicted banks have made useful statements to investigators digging into the infractions. Those found wanting will be prosecuted accordingly.

Additionally, the EFCC has not cleared anyone allegedly involved in the fraud. Investigations are ongoing and advancing steadily. The public is enjoined to ignore any claim to the contrary.

“On the issue of the works of the Commission against Naira abuse, dollarization of the economy and the enforcement of all extant laws relating to them, the EFCC appreciates the avalanche of public awakening, support and involvement demonstrated so far. Increasingly, members of the public are drawing the attention of the Commission to video recording of abuse of the Naira by Nigerians from all walks of life. These gestures amply demonstrate rising consciousness of the public to the sanctity of our national currency and the need for collaborative engagement to sustain the tempo.

“To this end, the Commission will always investigate and prosecute anyone involved in the abuse of the Naira. Old videos being exhumed and flying around for the attention of the Commission are noted as the Commission is sensitive to the fact that its Special Task Force against Naira Abuse and Dollarization of the economy commenced operations on February 7, 2024. However, going forward, new videos of such infractions will be investigated and prosecuted.

At the moment, the Commission is investigating several celebrities involved in Naira abuse. Many of them have made useful statements to the Commission and many more have been invited by investigators working on the matter. The EFCC will not relent in its no-sacred-cow mode of operations and the public should be wary of running afoul of laws against the crime.”

 

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CAC Places First Bank Records On Caveat Over Litigation

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The Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, has placed the records of First Bank of Nigeria (FBN) Holdings on caveat pending the resolution of the crisis rocking…

The Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, has placed the records of First Bank of Nigeria (FBN) Holdings on caveat pending the resolution of the crisis rocking the board of the bank as a result of multiple court cases filed by aggrieved directors.

The crisis rocking the bank stemmed from protests by shareholders who were kicking against the bank’s internal governance and shareholding structure, as a result of which some of them have taken their grievances to the court.

One of such is the case of Olusegun Samuel Onagoruwa v. FBN Holdings Plc in Suit No. FHC/L/CP/1271/2022), which is challenging the capacity of the Board of Directors of FBN to appoint new persons to fill vacant slots.

Onagoruwa in his suit is seeking “an order setting aside, nullifying, annulling and/or quashing the appointments and approvals of Mr. Olusola Adeeyo, Mr. Viswanathan Shankar, Mrs. Remilekun Adetola, Mr. Anil Dua and Mrs. Fatima Ibrahim as Non-Executive Directors of First Bank of Nigeria Limited made on the 20th day of March, 2024, by FBN Holdings PLC during the pendency of this action and in defiance of the subsisting order of this Honourable Court made on the 15th day of July, 2022.”

The motion also seeks an order restraining the above-named non-executive directors from acting or taking any steps as non-executive directors of the bank.

The current court case follows similar four other cases pending at the Federal High Court in Lagos and Abuja challenging the internal governance of FBN Limited, in addition to existing court injunctions restraining the bank from holding the last two Annual General Meetings which the bank went ahead to hold.

In a new twist to the crisis, the Corporate Affairs Commission in a letter entitled.

“Re: notification of pendency of suit no. fhc/l/cp/1575/23 against FBN holdings plc, and subsisting interim orders of the Federal High Court made on the 9th day of August 2023 restraining FBN holdings plc from holding or proceeding with its annual general meeting purportedly held on the 13th day of August 2023”, weighed in on litigations threatening to tear the old generation bank apart.

Signed on behalf of the Registrar General of CAC by Chidimma Maureen Nwite, the Commission in a letter to lawyers to some of the parties in court against FBN Holdings said: “This is to inform you that the record of FBN Holdings PLC RC: 916455 has been placed on caveat pending the determination of Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1575/2023.”

A shareholder, Mr. Olalekan Babalola, said “it is imperative for the authorities to find a solution to this lingering crisis as Nigeria cannot afford another major bank’s collapse at this critical time

He called for urgent resolution of all court cases in the overall interest of depositors, shareholders and other stakeholders of the bank before further damage is done to the oldest Nigerian bank.

 

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