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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

CBN, NDIC inject 786bn into Polaris Bank (defunct Skye Bank)

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The Central Bank of Nigeria in conjunction with the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) has injected N786bn into the Polaris Bank, (The defunct Skye Bank).

Recall that following the withdrawal of the operating licence of Skye Bank Plc, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), established Polaris Bank, a bridge bank to assume the  ownership of the assets, all deposit liabilities and some other liabilities of Skye Bank.

Godwin Emefiele, (middle), announcing the death of Skye Bank and birth of Polaris Bank in Lagos on Friday

CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, who disclosed this on Friday, said the strategy was for the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) to capitalise the bridge bank and begin the process of sourcing investors to buy out AMCON.

“By this decision, the licence of the defunct Skye Bank is hereby revoked.

We wish to assure all depositors that under this arrangement, their deposits shall remain safe and that normal banking services shall continue in the new bank on Monday, 24th September, 2018, to enable customers to transact their businesses seamlessly.

“Thus, all customers of Skye Bank shall be automatic customers of the new bank and their accounts and records duly purchased by Polaris Bank,” Emefiele explained.

The CBN chief further noted that the existing Board, Management and Staff of the defunct Skye Bank has been retained for its good performance whilst the CBN also assures depositors and customers of the safety of their funds.

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Polaris Bank takes over Skye Bank, CBN assures depositors

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Following the withdrawal of the operating licence of Skye Bank Plc, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in consultation with the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), has established a bridge bank known as Polaris Bank, to assume the assets and liabilities of the defunct bank.

CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, who disclosed this on Friday, said the strategy was for the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) to capitalise the bridge bank and begin the process of sourcing investors to buy out AMCON.

“By this decision, the licence of the defunct Skye Bank is hereby revoked.

We wish to assure all depositors that under this arrangement, their deposits shall remain safe and that normal banking services shall continue in the new bank on Monday, 24th September, 2018, to enable customers to transact their businesses seamlessly.

“Thus, all customers of Skye Bank shall be automatic customers of the new bank and their accounts and records duly purchased by Polaris Bank,” Emefiele explained.

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BUSINESS

Nigeria’s foreign debt hits $22bn

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The country’s foreign and domestic debts stood at $22.08bn and N15.63tn, respectively at the end of the second quarter of this year, according to figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics.

Figures from the NBS obtained by our correspondent on Thursday revealed that Lagos State had the largest share of the foreign and local debts among the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory.

The NBS stated, “The Nigerian states and federal debt stock data as of 30th of June, 2018 reflected that the country’s foreign and domestic debts stood at $22.08bn and N15.63tn, respectively. Further disaggregation of Nigeria’s foreign debt showed that $10.88bn of the debt was multilateral; $274.98m was bilateral (AFD) and another $2.12bn bilateral from the Exim Bank of China, JICA, India and KFW, while $8.80bn was commercial.

“Lagos State has the highest foreign debt profile among the 36 states and the FCT, accounting for 34.17 per cent, while Edo (6.57 per cent), Kaduna (5.48 per cent), Cross River (4.56 per cent) and Bauchi (3.18 per cent), followed closely.

“Similarly, the total domestic debt was N3.48tn, with Lagos State accounting for 14.88 per cent of the total domestic debt stock, while Anambra State has the least debt in this category with a contribution of 0.08 per cent to the total domestic debt stock.”

On the domestic debt stock of the states and the FCT, the NBS data revealed that Lagos owed N517.367bn; Delta, N222.680bn; Akwa Ibom, N179.714bn; while Kaduna had N75.606bn.

The statistics also revealed that Abia owed N57.467bn; Adamawa, N67.460bn; Anambra, N2.612bn; Bauchi, N78.076bn; and Bayelsa, N123.031bn.

The NBS statistics further revealed that the Federal Government’s domestic debt stock totalled N12.151tn during the period under review.

A breakdown of the figure showed that FGN Bonds amounted to N8.927tn or 73.47 per cent; Nigerian Treasury Bills totalled N2.953tn or 24.31 per cent; Nigerian Treasury Bonds, N150.988bn or 1.24 per cent; while the FGN Savings Bond was N8.521bn or 0.07 per cent.

Others are FGN Sukuk of N100bn or 0.82 per cent and FGN Green Bond of N10.690bn or 0.09 per cent.

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