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AMCON drags Venture and Engineering Company to court over N9.3billion debt

In a bid to recover a debt of N9,302,894,097.94, the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON, has dragged Ventures and Engineering Company Limited before a federal high court in Lagos.
In a statement of claim filed before the court by a Lagos lawyer, Ayo Obe, it was alleged that Ventures and Engineering Limited, a company registered in accordance with company and Allied Matters Act 1990 with its registered address at 103, Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, has as its chairman and chief executive, Ernest Iheanacho Oji who was also a director of Finbank during a period spanning 2008-2010.
Following the classification by the Central Bank of Nigeria of the facilities granted to the company by Finbank as non-performing loan, by loan purchase agreement between Finbank and AMCON, Finbank has assigned to AMCON all rights arising from and in connection with the company’s outstanding loan obligation to Finbank.
By offer of credit facility letter dated 12th February 2004 Ventures and Engineering Ltd was granted guarantee facility by First Atlantic Bank Plc in the sum of N45million. Security for the said facility included a memorandum for the use of shares in the Central Securities Clearing Systems Ltd depository as collateral.
By another offer of credit facility letter dated 20th November 2007, the company was granted Bid bond facilities by First Atlantic Bank Plc in the sum of N600million. Security for the said facility included a letter of lien and set off.

By a banking facility letter dated the 8th January 2009, the company was granted a short term loan facility by Afribank in the sum of N3billion for the purpose of enabling the company to take strategic position in a quoted company i.e. to purchase shares in a company publicly quoted on the Nigeria Stock Exchange.
The company acting through its chairman and its managing director, Ernest Iheanacho Oji, agreed that the security for the said Afribank facility would be a lien on the shares of the Blue chip companies to be purchased and the personal guarantees of the Directors of the company.
However, instead of providing the said agreed security the same were substituted by the guarantee of Finbank in the sum of N3billion dated 21st of January 2009. Pay back subsequently provided a further guarantee dated the 20th July, 2009 in the sum of N3,600,000,000 with Afribank.
Upon the release of the total N3billion (less N50million bank charges) funds under the Afribank facility as agreed, the company rapidly transferred the entire sum of N2,950,000,000 to a company, Black Hawk Energy Services Ltd. which immediately transferred the said sum to Emerhor Otega Olorogun, Peter A. Ayegbeni, Mohammed Yahaya, Pat Bassey Muhammed Aminu and Pesley –PBTG group of which Pat Bassey was the managing director.
Upon the transfer of Afribank funds from Black Hawk Energy Services aforesaid Emerhor Otega Olorogun, Peter Ayegbeni Pat Bassey and PESLEY-PBTG group transferred all the funds they had received from Black Hawk Energy Services to Lagoon Home Savings and Loan Ltd.
After the transfers the said Emerhor Olorogun and Pat Bassey became directors of Lagoon Home Savings and Loan Limited.
At the time when the guarantees of Finbank had placed a sum of N3,600,000,00 with Afribank were substituted for the security originally agreed under the Afribank facility, Ernest Oji and Emerhor Ortega Olorogun were directors of Finbank. In the circumstances AMCON says that the said funds were tainted eligible assets within the meaning of section 37 of AMCON Act.

Following the failure of the company to repay the monies under the Afribank facility by a letter dated 12th September 2009, Afribank called in the guarantees issued by Fnbank upon failure of Finbank to honour its guarantees by a letter dated 8th March 2010. Afribank notified Finbank of its intention to set off the placement by Finbank of N3,600,000,000 with it to part defray the indebtedness of the company in respect of the Afribank facility.
Finbank thereafter debited the company’s account with N3,600,000,000 in respect of which Afribank had exercised its right of set off and the company thereby became further indebted to Finbank, both sums continue to accrues interest but the company failed and refused to make any payment.
As at 31st of March 2019, the statements of the company’s account with Finbank, Afribank and AMCON showed that the total sum outstanding in respect of the company’s indebtedness to AMCON being principal sum together with accrued interest stood at N9,302,894,097.94.
Meanwhile AMCON alleged that its task force has traced the funds released to the company under the Afribank facility to bank accounts owned by or operated by the said Emerhor Otega Olorogun, Peter A. Ayegbeni, Mohammed Yahaya, Pat Bassey Mohammed Aminu and Pesley PBTG Group as well as Ventry Development Limited, West Power and Gas Ltd and Alpha Consortium Ltd, all companies of which Ernest Oji is the promoter and is also Director and signatory to their accounts. In the circumstances AMCON contended that it is entitled and enjoined to recover all such funds from any or all of the said persons or companies under the provisions of section 37 of the Asset management Cooperation of Nigeria Act 2010.
Meanwhile, based on an application filed before the court by AMCON, the court has issued Mareva order against the accounts of the company that may be domiciled in 21 commercial banks in Nigeria for the banks to show cause while funds in such account should not be attached.

About Demola Abimboye