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Customer battles Sterling Bank over N219m fraud

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A microfinance institution, OHHA Microfinance Bank Limited, has accused Sterling Bank Plc of defrauding it of N219 million it deposited with the bank.

The accusation was made in a letter to Sterling Bank by OHHA Microfinance Bank’s lawyers, Festus Keyamo Chambers. Dated 20 February and jointly signed by Messrs B.I Dakum and John Ainetor, the letter stated that OHHA Microfinance Bank operates two fixed deposit accounts (No. 514/1152051/74/0 Deal Ref. Slip No. DD No. 0138058 and No. 514/11520505/1/74/1 Deal Ref. Slip No. DD No.0133059) with Sterling Bank.

Both accounts, it said, have been operated for years and contain a deposit of N219million. The accounts said the microfinance bank was operated by Mr. Oliver Anidiobi, manager of Sterling Bank Market Road branch, Enugu State, who also doubles as its account manager.

While the accounts were in operation, OHHA Microfinance Bank said it exchanged many letters with Sterling Bank. In each of its replies, OHHA Microfinance Bank added, Sterling Bank confirmed the existence of the accounts and informed that the microfinance bank’s investment would be rolled over at Sterling Bank’s prevailing money market rate.

However, OHHA Microfinance Bank said that when it instructed Sterling Bank to terminate the fixed deposit and credit its current account on maturity with the principal and accrued interest, the latter refused.  This made OHHA Microfinance Bank to briefed O. A. Omotayo and Associates, a law firm, which made the same demands.

Sterling Bank, added OHHA Microfinance Bank, admitted the existence of the accounts but denied the existence of any fixed deposit investment.

It went ahead to claim that the deposit certificates presented by OHHA Microfinance Bank were forged. The bank also put up a defence for Mr. Anidiobi, whom it admitted to having handed over to the law enforcement agents over allegations of forgery.

“Having admitted that your staff Mr. Oliver Anidiobi is liable for forgery, which same offence has been committed while he was in your employment, we make bold to say you are vicariously liable for whatever Mr. Oliver Anidiobi would have done in the normal cause of his business as your branch manager. It is no doubt, you employed the said manager and presented him as a worthy staff for unsuspecting customers to deal with him, which our client did in good faith. It is safe to infer that you have defrauded our clients of the sum of N219million,” said the letter.

On that basis, OHHA Microfinance Bank is demanding that its current account (0023325543) with the sum of N219 million within seven days of the service of the letter. It warned that in the event of a default, it will take every legal step to ensure the recovery of its investments with accrued interest.

Efforts to reach Mr. Henry bassey, Chief Marketing Officer, Brand Management & Communication Group of Sterling Bank for the lender’s angle to the allegations proved futile as his mobile line was not available as at press time.

 

The letter is produced below.

OPEN LETTER TO STERLING BANK PLC

20th February, 2018

The Managing Director,

Sterling Bank Plc,

20 Marina,

Lagos.

Dear Sir,

UNLAWFUL CONVERSION OF THE SUM OF N219,000,000.00 (TWO HUNDRED AND NINETEEN MILLION NAIRA) BELONGING TO OHHA MICROFINANCE BANK LTD

DEMAND TO CREDIT OHHA MICROFINANCE BANK LTD  CURRENT ACCOUNT NUMBER 0023325543 WITH THE SUM OF N219,000,000.00 (TWO HUNDRED AND NINETEEN MILLION NAIRA)

We are solicitors to Ohha Microfinance Bank Ltd on whose firm instructions we write you.

Our client briefed us that it has a two fixed deposit accounts with you with Account No. 514/1152051/74/0 Deal Ref. Slip No. DD No. 0138058 and Account No. 514/11520505/1/74/1 Deal Ref. Slip No. DD No. 0133059.

That they have operated the said accounts with you for some years and deposited the sum of N219,000,000.00 (Two Hundred and Nineteen Million Naira) in the said deposit accounts through your Branch Manager, Market Road Branch, Enugu State, Mr. Oliver Anidiobi who also doubles as its Account Manager.

While operating the said Accounts, our client exchanged several correspondences with you wherein you confirmed the existence of the said Accounts and also informed them that their investment would be rolled over at the Bank’s prevailing money market rate.

Our client was surprised when it instructed you to terminate the Fixed Deposit and Credit its Current Account on maturity with the principal and accrued interest but you remained adamant. Consequent upon your failure to carry out its instruction, it briefed the law firm of O. A. Omotayo & Associates who made the same demands to you but you responded reluctantly wherein you admitted the existence of the said accounts but denied the existence of any fixed deposit investment by our client.

You further claimed that the Deposit Certificate presented to our client were forged and tried to defend Mr. Oliver Anidiobi whom you also admitted to have handed over to the law enforcement agents in connection with allegations of forgery.

Having admitted that your staff Mr. Oliver Anidiobi is liable for forgery which same offence has been committed while he was in your employment, we make bold to say you are vicariously liable for whatever Mr. Oliver Anidiobi would have done in the normal cause of his business as your Branch Manager. It is no doubt, you employed the said Manager and presented him as a worthy staff for unsuspecting customers to deal with him which our client did in good faith. It is safe to infer that you have defrauded our clients of the sum of N219,000,000.00 (Two Hundred and Nineteen Million Naira).

Consequently, we have our client’s instructions to demand that you credit its Current Account with you: 0023325543 with the sum of  N219,000,000.00 (Two Hundred and Nineteen Million Naira) within  SEVEN (7) DAYS from the date of service of this notice on you, failure to yield to our demands shall leave us with no option than to set all the machineries of law in motion to ensure our client’s investments with accrued interest in the above mentioned accounts are duly recovered.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

For: Festus Keyamo Chambers

B.I. DAKUM, ESQ

Counsel

JOHN AINETOR, ESQ

Assistant Head of Chambers

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BUSINESS

Q2: Dangote Cement invests $3bn on plants, grinding terminals across Africa

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…. employs 27,952 Nigerians in 2017

 

Group Chief Executive Officer of Dangote Cement, Joe Makoju has revealed that the company has invested a whopping $3B to build manufacturing plants and import/grinding terminals across Africa.

The company’s operations, according to Makoju are in Cameroon (1.5Mta clinker grinding), Congo (1.5Mta), Ghana (1.5Mta import), Ethiopia (2.5Mta), Senegal (1.5Mta), Sierra Leone (0.7Mta import), South Africa (2.8Mta), Tanzania (3.0Mta), Zambia (1.5Mta).

For the second quarter under review, Makoju also revealed that while total Nigeria sales volumes went up by 13.9 per cent to 7.8Mt, Pan-African volumes reduced by 3.9 per cent, mainly due to shutdown in Tanzania.

In all, the company, which employed 27,952 workers in Nigeria in 2017 had its revenue increased by 16.9 per cent and its earning per share also increased by 3 per cent to N6.60 kobo per share for the second quarter, ended in June 30, 2018.

Makoju said: “Our first-half performance was very strong and driven by an excellent recovery in Nigeria, where our sales volumes increased by nearly 14 per cent and revenues rose by more than 18 per cent. Pan-African operations saw a slight fall in volumes but both revenues and EBITDA increased because of better pricing and currency conversion effects.

In addition, we achieved the largest-ever issuance of Commercial Paper by a Nigerian company when we issued ₦50B Series 1 & 2 Notes at the end of June, with a discount rate that reflected the strength of our Company and its excellent credit ratings.

Of course, our strong performance has been overshadowed by the tragic and heartbreaking events in Ethiopia. I would like to pay tribute to my colleagues Deep Kamra, Beakal Alelign and Tsegaye Gidey and offer our sincere condolences to their families.”

It would be recalled that the Chairman of Dangote Cement, at the company’s recently concluded annual general meeting (AGM), Aliko Dangote attributed the 31 per cent increase in the company’s revenue, of N805.6 billion, for the 2017 financial year, to its pan African operations growth which also recorded a significant increase in revenue from N195 billion to N258.4 billion in 2017.

He said: “Pan African operations increased volumes by 8.4 per cent, with Ethiopia, Senegal, Cameroon and South Africa all performing strongly and close to their operating capacity”

Noting that the company experienced some challenges in operating in sub-Saharan Africa, Dangote said the Management responded in robust fashion and benefited from “…the diversity we have created across our business and because of our local knowledge and attitudes towards doing business in neighboring countries in Africa.”

Explaining the rationale behind the success recorded by the Dangote Cement’s revenue, the acting Group Chief executive, Joe Makoju said “… the increase was helped by our decision to increase our use of local coal in Nigeria and that also helped to improve our fuel security, maintain production uptime and it reduced our need for foreign currency. We source coal from our parent company, Dangote Industries and from another Nigerian supplier, and we are very happy with the way this has worked out for us because it has enabled us to phase out the use of expensive low pour fuel oil in our kilns and also to reduce our use of imported coal”

On the future growth plans for the Group, Makoju said “…As it stands, I think we will focus on building new grinding plants along the coast of West Africa, and ensure we have clinker export facilities in Nigeria. We are looking at the possibility of two new lines in Nigeria, perhaps by the end of 2020 and its likely these will be in Edo state and Obajana, with a combined capacity of 6Mta”

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BUSINESS

Fidelity Bank donates N50m to Lagos State Security Trust Fund

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L-R: Divisional Head, Brand and Communications, Fidelity Bank Plc, Charles Aigbe; Executive Secretary/ CEO, Lagos State Security Trust Fund ( LSSTF), Dr. Abdurrazaq Balogun; Executive Director, Lagos and South West, Fidelity Bank, Nneka Onyeali – Ikpe; Chief Security Officer, Fidelity Bank Plc, Peter Okoloh when Fidelity Bank presented a cheque of N50 Million to the Lagos State Security Trust Fund ( LSSTF) as part of the Bank’s contribution in ensuring the safety of lives and property in Lagos State

 

Fidelity Bank Plc on Monday donated N50 million to the Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSSTF) as part of contributions to improving security of lives and property in the State. The cheque was presented by the Bank’s Executive Director, Lagos and South-West, Mrs Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe to the Executive Secretary, LSSTF, Dr. Abdulrassaq Balogun at a brief ceremony in Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos on Monday.

Onyeali-Ikpe who commended the Lagos State Government for its commitment to preserving public peace, and protecting lives and property of Lagosians, said security was paramount to business success. According to her no activity can thrive in an atmosphere of uncertainty and insecurity.

“We are encouraged to support this initiative and kudos must be given to the Lagos State Government for the peace we are enjoying in the state today. gWe have over 80 branches, about 2,000 staff and millions of customers in the state. We are concerned about their safety all the time” she stated

The Executive Secretary of LSSTF, Dr. Abdurrazaq Balogun, commended the bank for the gesture, saying that Fidelity had been consistent in its support to the Fund from inception to date. According to him the bank has donated a total of N175 million to the LSSTF since the fund was established. “Thank you Fidelity Bank. We are most appreciative of this and what is most touching for us is your consistency. You have always come to our aid every year unsolicited”.

He assured the Fidelity Bank officials that the donation would be used judiciously and reiterated the commitment of the Lagos State Governor Akinwumi Ambode to ensuring that we have a safe Lagos State.

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BUSINESS

CBN sustains Forex intervention, injects fresh $210m

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), on Tuesday, July 17, 2018 injected the sum of $210 million into the inter-bank foreign exchange (forex) market.

The Bank offered $100million to authorized dealers in the wholesale segment of the market, while the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) segment got the sum of $55 million, just as $55 million was also allocated for invisibles such as tuition fees, medical payments and Basic Travel allowance (BTA).

In a statement, the Bank’s Acting Director of Corporate Communications Department, Mr. Isaac Okorafor confirmed the figures and restated the apex bank resolve to continue to intervene in the interbank foreign exchange market, in line with its pledge to sustain liquidity in the market and maintain stability.

Mr. Okorafor maintained that the continued forex intervention is to ensure that the Bank meets genuine customers’ requests in various segments of the market.

It will be recalled that last Tuesday, July 10, 2018, the CBN intervened to the tune of $210 million, to cater for requests in the wholesale segment of the market.

Meanwhile, the naira continued to exchange at an average of N360/$1 in the Bureau De Change (BDC) segment of the market on Tuesday, July 17, 2018.

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