By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief, Hector IgbikiowuboÂ & Abdulwahab Abdulah
More executives of affected banks arrested, Foreign banks shut credit lines to Nigeria,
ABUJAâ€”The Econom ic and Financial Crimes Commission,Â EFCC, has issued a seven-day ultimatum to all those who borrowed from the five banks whose executive officers were sacked by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, last week to pay up or face prosecution even as foreign bankers have stopped honouring letters of credits from their Nigerian counterparts following the action of the Nigerian apex bank.
Speaking in Lagos yesterday, Chairman of the anti graft commission, Mrs FaridaÂ Waziri, said if the individuals and companies involved refused to pay up , the government will be left with no alternative than to prosecute them immediately.
Waziri, who was a guest speaker at a forum organized by Lawyers in the Media at the on-going national conference of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, said the opportunity of repayment of the loans within the stipulated date was to enable those who borrowed from the banks to either pay through bank draft or cheque in the name of the Federal Government.
Foreign banks shut credit line to Nigeria
Meanwhile, foreign bankers have discontinued honouring letters of credit from their Nigerian counterparts, owing to the recent sacking of the management of five Nigerian banks by the Central Bank of Nigeria over issues bordering on poor corporate governance and a debilitating debt profile.
The management of Rockson Engineering Company Limited, also disclosedÂ yesterday that manufacturers handling production of equipment for four of its ongoing power projects had stopped work as a result of the CBN action.
Vanguard gathered that the correspondent foreign banks took the action over the concerns generated by the CBN action.
Although the CBN had assured it would guarantee the liabilities of the five banks affected by its action-Intercontinental Bank, Oceanic Bank, Union Bank, Afribank and Fin Bank (all publicly quoted companies), an executive director with one of the banks operating in the country pointed out that this was not enough to assuage concerns.
â€œThe world over, everybody knows that banking is all about confidence and once that is eroded, a lot can go wrong.
Although there was a problem which had to be tackled, it would appear that the CBN’s approach has complicated matters and may very well bring this economy to its knees,â€ the executive director who did not want his name in print explained.
He said since the CBN action was taken, no foreign correspondent bank was willing to honour letters of credit from their Nigerian counterpart banks anymore, adding that â€˜the confidence built up by the era of consolidation has been frittered away over-night.
Also speaking at a press conference in Lagos yesterday, Sir Johnson Arumemi-Ikhide, the managing director of Rockson Engineering, one of the companies listed by the CBN as being indebted to Intercontinental Bank to the tune of N36.989 billion disclosed that power projects being handled by the company including Ala-Oji, Gbarain, Egbema and Omoku will be further delayed owing to the CBN action.
He disclosed that although the CBN had released letters of credit for stages of the project, it was on the basis of this that the company borrowed funds from Intercontinental bank and Bank PHB for the level of work done so far at the various sites.
Sir Arumemi-Ikhide also disclosed that following the CBN sacking of the management of Intercontinental Bank, he has been inundated with telephone calls from the manufacturers of equipment, questioning the letters of credit at their disposal.
â€œThe manufacturers have even put off a factory acceptance test our people were scheduled to attend abroad. We were told not to come. You can imagine what this will do to the ongoing power projects. No local bank will agree to honour CBN letters of credit anymore. It is either the CBN governor wasnâ€™t properly briefed or he is being misled.
â€œThis exposure with Intercontinental Bank Plc derives directly from the provision of credit facilities to substantially fund the letters of credit for turbines and balance of plant equipment for the execution of the Federal Governmentâ€™s National Integrated Power Projects, NIPP, comprising the construction of power stations at Ala-Oji, Gbarain, Egbema and Omoku over which our invoices on certified progress stand at nearly eight hundred million US dollars ($800m).
â€œIt is important to stress that this relationship with Intercontinental Bank Plc is current and live.â€
He praised the singular financial commitment of the sacked management of Intercontinental Bank to the Federal Governmentâ€™s power project, noting that this was largely underscored by the professionalism with which the financial transactions for the projects were handled.
I will sue CBN ifâ€¦ Jimoh Ibrahim
Reacting yesterday to the banks debtorsâ€™ list published by the apex bank, the Group Managing Director (GMD) of the NICON Group of Companies, Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim, has threatened to sue CBN if it failed to immediately retract yesterdayâ€™s publication in which he was said to have owed Oceanic Bank International Plc N14.782 billion.
He told newsmen in Abuja that the apex bankâ€™s publication misrepresented him, claiming that he owed only N8 billion and that the loan was performing.
â€œI expect the CBN to do a retraction if not I will go to court. We have been paying our debt and our accounting is performing.Â It is wrong for the CBN to go to the press to say that we owe N14 billion when in actual fact we owe N 8 billion,â€ he said.
Mr. Jimoh distributed copies of a letter dated 18 May, 2009 which he said was written to him by the bankÂ to prove that the outstanding debt was N 8 billion and the loan was performing.
The letter titled: RE: OUTSTANDING INDEBTEDNESS reads in full, â€œWe write to acknowledge receipt of value of N 3 billion to date on the outstanding on your facilities with the bank.
â€œSubject to getting value for the N 1 billion cheque payment today, May 18 2009, the total outstanding on your facilities will now be N 8 billion.
â€œWe thank you and look forward to a most mutually beneficial relationship even as it is our hope that other payments necessary to fully extinguish these facilities will follow soon.â€
The letter which was signed by the Assistant General Manager, Corporate banking Group, Mr. Robinson Ofomata and Executive Director, Corporate Banking Group, Mr. Oti Ikomi also quoted the five accounts in the group which included Global Fleet Oil and Gas, Global Fleet Industries, Fleet Hotels, NICON GROUP and Bar. Jimoh Ibrahim.
According to the GMD, he runs a big group of companiesÂ with business interests in many countries of the world and that there have been several phone calls to him by stakeholders who were concerned about the publication.
Mr. Ibrahim said the action of the governor of the CBN, Mr. Sabusi Lamido Sanusi,Â would have been commended if the figures were correct but that â€œif the figures are wrong, then there is no credibility.â€
He queried what he termed, â€œthe hurryâ€ of the CBN to make the list public without cross checking with the debtors what exactly they owed the banks.
According to him, given latest developments, it was possible that some of the banks intentionally inflated the figures with ulterior motive and that the CBN governor should have asked the new MDs he appointed last week to furnish him with the true positions of the affected accounts.
On the MDs of the banks who were sacked, the GMD wondered why any of them would want to run away if he or she had nothing to hide.
More helmsmen ofÂ subsidiaries held
EFCC has meantime picked some other bank executives. They are Emmanuel Okonji, MD, First Inland Capital,Â Alex Duruike, MD First Inland Security,Â Abubakar Magaji, MD Intercontinental Trustees, Adebayo Adeyi of Intercontinental Securities,Â Ayodele Thomas Intercontinental Capital, Abiodun TaiwoÂ MD FinanceÂ Investment , as well as, MDs of Oceanic Trustees
Meanwhile EFCC yesterday said that all the arrested MDs of the affected banks would remain in its custody until investigation is concluded.
ACAMB cautions public
In a related development,Â the Association of Corporate Affairs Managers of Banks (ACAMB) has called on the Nigerian public, particularly banksâ€™ customers to be wary of the avalanche of uninformed analyses that will come their way as a result of the recent intervention of CBN in five banks.
The body also decried the huge debt portfolios of corporate bodies, institutions, governments and individuals to the banks and asked that the litany of banksâ€™ debtors should urgently honour their financial obligations to the Banks in order to remedy the situations.
Weâ€™ll sort out our issue â€” Seriki
The Managing Director of Omatek computer firm, Mrs Florence Seriki also quoted as owing Intercontinental Bank some N1.7 billion has allayed fears regarding the situation.
â€œ We are not bad debtors on any facility. We ‘ve regular facilities like any other customer and they are documented and running,â€ she says.
According to her, the company will sort out the matterwith theÂ new bank MD.
Aliko Dangoteâ€™s reacts
“We refer to the CBN advertorial in various print publications dated 19th August 2009, listing Alhaji Aliko Dangote as a Director and Shareholder of Dansa Oil and Gas Limited, a defaulting customer to Intercontinental Bank Plc.
We wish to state for the records that Alhaji Aliko Dangote is neither a Director nor a Shareholder of Dansa Oil and Gas Limited as averred.Â This is verifiable through the Company Registration documents held by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) wherein directors of the said company are listed as: Alhaji Sani Dangote, Alhaji Mohammed Dangote, Ali Dangote
“It is important to note that Alhaji Aliko Dangote is not the same as Ali Dangote as erroneously published in the CBN advertorial.Â Ali Dangote is the son of Alhaji Sani Dangote.
“Form CAC7 of the Corporate Affairs Commission shows Ali Dangoteâ€™s signature which is very different from Alhaji Aliko Dangoteâ€™s signature.Â Â Furthermore Alhaji Aliko Dangote has no part in the management and running of Dansa Oil and Gas Limited.
“A letter has been written to the Central Bank of Nigeria to correct this misrepresentation and to request the removal of the name of Alhaji Aliko Dangote from the list of non-performing debtors of Intercontinental Bank Plc.
“With reference to Dangote Industries Limitedâ€™s indebtedness to Oceanic Bank Plc to the value of N2,526,460,000.00, we are in dispute over the charges and are very close to resolution.
“A company of our size will take on facilities from bankers and financiers in the course of our business. As a responsible organization we deliver to our obligations in servicing these loans.
“It is on record that our credit rating remains admirable and our bankers have confidence in our ability to meet our obligations.”
Afribank sends SMS to customers
“Dear esteemed customer, the leadership change in AFIBANK by CBN is to ensure we are solvent to meet all our obligations to you.
Continue to walk tall with us.”