By Babajide Komolafe
The five troubled banks have faulted the list of debtors published by the Central bank of Nigeria (CBN) last week. The banks said that the debtors list was compiled by the CBN and they did not see the final copy before it was published. Officials of the banks who spoke to Vanguard under condition of anonymity said that the debtors’ list was full of errors and most of the accounts not non-performing contrary to what was

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published by the apex bank.

The CBN however dismissed the banks claim saying that the  debtors’ list was not cooked up but  compiled from the books of the banks.
Last week the CBN published the list of debtors with non-performing loans of N100 million and above in five troubled banks.

The banks were Bank PHB, Spring Bank, Equatorial Trust Bank, Wema Bank and Unity Bank. The list which featured the names of prominent Nigerians and politicians shows that this class of debtors owed the five banks N450 billion. According to the list Bank PHB was owed N170 billion, Equatorial Trust Bank N46 billion, Wema Bank N101 billion, Spring Bank N95 billion and Unity Bank N37 billion. But the following day, some of the listed debtors denied owing the banks and demanded apology from the CBN and the banks.

For example FutureView Securities  Limited  on Thursday refuted the debtors’ list published by the CBN. The apex bank  had  named one of the subsidiaries and two  affiliates companies of FutureView  as having non-performing loans in BankPHB.

The CBN advertorial had listed FutureView Securities Limited as having non-performing credit of N3.6 billion in BankPHB while its affiliate organisations, namely Tradjek Nigeria Limited and  Extra Oil Limited, were said to be owing the bank N3.2 billion and N3.5 billion respectively.  The Managing Director of FutureView, Mrs Elizabeth Ebi, was named as director in the three companies.

The Group Head, Corporate Finance and Subsidiaries of FutureView,  Mr. Tochukwu Kemakolam, said FutureView Securities at no time requested or accepted any credit facility from BankPHB Plc, let alone reneging on its obligation to service or repay the purported loan.
Addressing the press in Lagos on Thursday,  Kemakolam, who is also the company secretary, said FutureView had written to the CBN and BankPHB Plc to present genuine documents to show an application to it for acceptance of any BankPHB Plc credit facility or any of its affiliate companies within seven days of this notice, failing which it would take legal action against the apex bank and BankPHB.

According to him, Tradjek Nigeria Limited is also embarrassed by the publication likewise Extra Oil Limited. He pointed out that the three companies are requesting a rejoinder from the CBN and BankPHB, to the effect that their inclusion in the list was by error.    “We insist that the three companies at no time requested for or accepted any credit facility from BankPHB Plc, let alone reneging on its obligation to service or repay the purported loan,” he added.

A senior treasury official in one of the five banks said,  “I can tell you we are not the ones that compiled those list. The list was compiled by the CBN and they didn’t allow us to see the final copy before publishing it. He said most of the loans listed are performing and though the limits on the accounts were exceeded that doesn’t make them non-performing. But what the CBN did in the debtors list is to categorise accounts that have exceeded their borrowing limit as non-performing loans.

Corroborating this, a senior official in the debt recovery department in one of the banks said that the banks had nothing to do with the list and the CBN did not request for their inputs in determining which account was non-performing and which was not. He said that the CBN must have compiled the list from documents taken from the banks during the special examination but a lot have happened between then and last week when the list was published.

He said some of the customers sensing that the CBN might publish the list of those owing the banks, negotiated with the banks to restructure the loans and since have been servicing them.

“These customers have protested to us when they saw their names on the debtor’s lists but we told them that we had no control over the list. We explained to them that we were not the ones that compiled the lists and we did  not even know  when the list was  compiled. We assured them that should the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) invite them over the debt, we would explain the true picture of their facilities to the Commission.”

A treasurer  in one of the banks told Vanguard that the debtors’ list have created tension between his bank and some big time customers whose name were erroneously included in the list. Some of these customers have threatened to leave the bank and we had to appeal to them that the fault was from the CBN.

Investigation reveals that   one of the banks seems to have lost its biggest customer which also has links with one of the majority shareholders of the banks. A senior official of the bank who confirmed this to Vanguard said that some of the sales outlets of the company had stopped remitting the daily cash takings to the bank and when asked why, they said they were acting on directives from above. “It would be a serious challenge to the bank  if we lose the account because their daily cash takings give us a lot of liquidity resources.”

The CBN however dismissed the claims of the banks that the list was prepared from the books of the banks. Deputy Director, Corporate Affairs of the apex bank, Alhaji Mohammed Abdullahi told Vanguard  that the banks’ officials making those claim are ignorant as there is no way the CBN would have compiled the debtors’ list without the input of the banks.

He said, “The debtors list was compiled from the result of the audit of the banks. You will recall that the CBN ordered the audit of the banks and the audit was conducted by a trained team of CBN and NDIC examiners. After the audit the examiners’ submitted their report which contained their findings which included the non-performing loans of the banks to the Committee of the Director of Bank Examination of the NDIC and the Director of Banking Supervision of the CBN.

The committee in reviewing the report discussed the findings in the report with the banks and thereafter submitted it to the Committee of Governors of the CBN. The Committee of Governors vetted the report and submitted their recommendation to the Board of the apex bank which then approved the measures announced by the CBN.

Before we released the list of debtors we sent the list to the banks for verification and in fact that was why the list was not released on time. A lot of people thought we were not going to publish the list and were already accusing us of partiality but we were taking our time to verify the list of debtors so that the mistakes made when the first list was released were not repeated.”

On some debtors that have publicly denied owing the banks, Abdullahi said, “if any individual or company is contesting the details of the list of non-performing loans released by the CBN such individual or company should go back to their bank and reconcile rather than calling a press conference. As we published now, the cut off point of the list of non-performing loans is June 30th. It is possible from that date till now that some individuals might have made some repayment, but that does not negate what we have said  or what we have published as at June 30th.

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