A Case Of Stealing Customer’s Fund Against Zenith Bank: Victim, Stakeholders, Cry Out, Accuse NDIC Of Complicity

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The NDIC response reads in part: “while we are working on your petition, kindly be assured of our rules and responsibilities towards depositors’ confidence and customer protection. We noted the fact that you have copied your letters to the CBN, among others, we would therefore collaborate with the CBN on investigating the matter”.

Investigation revealed that NDIC has not come up with any report on the fraud allegation against Zenith bank, more than four years after making the promise to investigate the matter in collaboration with the CBN.

National Coordinator of Empowerment for Unemployed Youth Initiative, Comrade Solomon Adodo spoke with newsmen in Abuja recently, expressed worry over what he described as unwarranted delay by the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) to commence investigation into the case more than four years after the matter was brought to NDIC’s attention.

Comrade Adodo lamented that after getting a strong documented assurance that it would conduct a thorough investigation into the fraud case in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), NDIC has rather seemingly swept the stealing case under the carpet for no reason.

The coordinator revealed “that following a petition I sent to the Managing Director of NDIC on December 3, 2015 with the caption: “contravention of banking rules and depositor exploitation: need for urgent clarification and request for swift intervention”, Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation had promised to investigate the case of stealing that led to the termination of a $64 million dollars.

However, investigation revealed that the NDIC has not come up with any report on the stealing allegation against Zenith bank after more than four years of making the promise to investigate the matter in collaboration with apex regulatory financial institution, CBN.

Recall that the Managing Director of Owigs and Obigs, Emeka Okorie, had dragged Zenith Bank before the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, over unethical conduct which resulted in the termination of a foreign business transaction worth over $64 million, involving a Chinese firm, King-Tan Tantalum Industry.

‘’Without any hint from our banker, we were informed by the Singapore broker (Eglone Group Asia PTE Ltd) that Zenith bank has without notice terminated the contract without a recourse to Owigs and Obigs by paying off from the company’s account, the fund which was to secure the performance guarantee, as a default payment to ICBC for breach of contract.

Since there was no debit notification or advice, steps taken immediately to clarify the information were frustrated when the bank stated that the transaction notification messages platform linking to the company’s account has been disconnected and cut off and that the company has been barred from accessing any information on the state of its account with Zenith bank (both USD and naira account) and hence declined to release the company’s statement of account till date without reason.

“The management refused to communicate despite the persistent effort made to get answer from Zenith bank for unwarranted and unaccounted withdrawal from the company’s account, without notice and or authorisation, instead they responded with threat of fire and brimstone if this matter should go to press but promised to settle based on dialogue which never came to be.

“As pressure continued to mount from our firm, Zenith bank on October 10, 2016 sent a message of the account’s closure without notice after refusing and failing to release our statement of account since 2014 till date which was a violation of depositor’s right, breach of trust and accountability by the bank.

“Indeed, several jobs were lost as a result of this, our financial fortune was severely affected in the adverse and the international reputation of our firm significantly dented.An NGO- Empowerment for Unemployed Youth Initiative, had sought clarification from your Office on this matter in a letter dated November 25, 2015 which letter was received by you on December 7, 2015 without any response.

“Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) through her letter dated January 6, 2016 with reference No: NDIC/BEU/7/VOL.8 and titled RE: CONTRAVENTION OF BANKING RULES AND DEPOSITOR EXPLOITATION: NEED FOR URGENT CLARIFICATION AND REQUEST FOR SWIFT INTERVENTION, had sought to collaborate with CBN to investigate the matter but was turned down.

“We have not yet been formally advised with detailed explanation as to the failure of transaction. We continued wondering if perhaps the failure was linked to the unresolved background issue between us and Zenith Bank which bordered on Zenith bank’s demand for 34% share of the established expected net profit ($38,432,470.04) of the transaction, as its own entitlement in conformity with the CBN directive according to them (Zenith Bank Plc.).

“The fact that the contract was illegally terminated by Zenith bank left us with so many unanswered questions as to whether the illegal termination suggested an unresolved LC issue or disagreements over the demand of 34% share from our pay off entitlements from the transaction.

“This letter serves as a distress call to CBN to come to our aid as presently, Owigs and Obigs Nigeria Limited has entered into a pre-contract processes with the Nigerian Army involving a European Government Finance Support Scheme through its military pension fund, for supply of modern solar energy infrastructural equipment and materials; and confirmed Letters of Credit will be utilised in the said contract with Nigerian Army.

“We do not want the transaction with the Nigerian Army to suffer a similar fate that befell our transaction with ICBC. We herein seek your advice/clarification on the following: The relevant rules and conventions guiding confirmation of an issued Letter of Credit and the internationally acceptable standard/format of a Letter of Credit according to the uniform custom practice (UCP).

All efforts to get NDIC reaction to the allegaion proved abortive as no official was ready to comment on the matter.

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