November 3, 2009

EFCC recovers N171bn bank debts

By Michael Eboh & Emma Ovuakporie
ABUJA — THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has recovered N171.05 billion from debtors of seven of the ten troubled banks, representing 15.13 per cent of the total of about N1.13 trillion debts owed them.

It was reliably gathered yesterday that Intercontinental Bank Plc’s debt topped the list with a total N59.23 billion recovered, representing 28.08 per cent of its total N210.9 billion bad debt portfolio.

Others include BankPHB Plc, N1.21 billion, representing 0.71 per cent of its total N170 billion non-perfoming loans; Afribank Plc, N33.39 billion, representing 23.53 per cent of its total N141.9 billion non-performing loans; Wema Bank Plc, N30.42 billion, representing 84.5 per cent of its total N36 billion non-performing loans; Oceanic Bank International Plc, N35.48 billion, representing 12.75 per cent of its N278.2 billion non-performing loans; Spring Bank Plc, N571.74 million representing 0.6 per cent of its N95.5 billion non-performing loans and FinBank Plc N10.75 billion, representing 25.35 per cent of its N42.4 billion non-performing loans.

Meanwhile, the manhunt for the former Managing Director of Equitorial Trust Bank, Ike Oraekwuotu, continues as EFCC operatives are said to have spread a dragnet for him.

It would be recalled that the Central Bank, CBN, had on August 14 axed the boards of five banks andlater sent three others packing over alleged unwholesome banking practices.

Some of the bank CEOs and their directors are presently undergoing prosecution for various allegations levied against them in the courts and are made to mark a monthly register at the headquarters of the EFCC.

The Commission recently employed the services of ten foreign forensic experts to help trace over N1 trillion said to have been stashed away by some of the bank Chief Executives in foreign vaults.

When contacted, the Head, Media and Publicity of the EFCC, Mr. Femi Babafemi said: “we have recovered substantial amount and we are still out there trying to recover more of the debts.”

The anti-graft agency had in October announced the recovery of about N108.5 billion from the bank debtors.

Meanwhile, the Commission has intensified efforts toward recovering more debts and most of the debtors have put up their properties for sale.

A statement by the spokesperson of the EFCC, quoted the Chairperson of the Commission, Mrs. Farida Waziri as saying that its decision to pursue the recovery of these loans was backed by the Nigerian constitution.

She said, “At face value, there should be no basis for the EFCC’s involvement in the recent banking sector cleansing and the recovery of debts. However, we must understand that section 7 (2) of the legislation establishing it states that the EFCC “shall be the coordinating agency for the enforcement of the provisions” of the following key legislations: ‘The Failed Banks (Recovery of Debts) and Financial Malpractices in Banks Act 1994 and ‘The Banks and other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA) 1991’.

“These 2 laws alone should suffice to justify the involvement of an organisation like the EFCC in the bank cleansing exercise and the recovery of loans by the Central Bank of Nigeria. However, it may be necessary to go beyond that.

The general issues arising from the exercise in Nigeria have shown that margin loans, other forms of loan facilities and infraction by lenders, are the critical areas that rogues within the system utilised”, she explained.