Mr. Femi Otedola
•Cross River, Kwara, Zamfara State Governments also affected
In a move aimed at strengthening financial stability and instilling discipline in the banking sector, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has barred banks in the country from extending further credit to 113 companies and 419 directors/shareholders, including those belonging to Mr. Femi Otedola, Alhaji Sayyu Dantata, Sir Johnson Arumemi-Ikhide, former Power Minister, Prof. Bart Nnaji, Mrs Elizabeth Ebi and Dr. Wale Babalakin.
The CBN arrived at this decision as a result of the reluctance by the debtors to pay back their loans despite the purchase of the debts at an agreed price by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).
In a new circular dated September 17, and obtained exclusively by THISDAY, the central bank stated that the restriction would apply to individuals, organisations, companies as well as principal shareholders and directors of companies where the outstanding value of loans purchased by AMCON amounted to N5 billion or above as at the day of purchase, without regard to the actual amount paid by AMCON.
The circular, which was signed by CBN’s Director, Banking Supervision, Mrs. A. O. Martins, stated that “it has become necessary to stop debtors who failed to repay their loans to banks and had these loans subsequently transferred to AMCON, from further enjoying credit facilities from Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) until they fully repay agreed outstandings to AMCON.”
The circular, which was accompanied by a detailed list of the blacklisted debtors, showed that worst hit by the directive are Zenon Petroleum, owned by Otedola, which was indebted to banks to the tune of N192.4 billion; MRS Holdings Limited, which belongs to Dantata – N119.98 billion; Seawolf Limited – N98.32 billion; Arik Air Limited, belonging to Arumemi-Ikhide – N85.481 billion; NITEL Plc/M-Tel – N71.547 billion; and Capital Oil and Gas Limited, which belongs to Ifeanyi Ubah – N48.014 billion.
Others include Falcon Securities, whose Managing Director, Mr. Peter Ololo, was arraigned alongside several bank executives in 2009 by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) – N162.9 billion; Rockson Engineering Limited, owned by Arumemi-Ikhide – N60.475 billion; BGL Securities – N6.44 billion; Rahamaniyya Oil & Gas Limited – N46.38 billion; Bi-Courtney Limited – N20.214 billion; and Geometrics Engineering, owned by Nnaji – N19.76 billion.
The restriction also applies to: Aero Contractors Company, owned by the family of Olorogun Michael Ibru - N32.579 billion; Tinapa Business Resort – N18.509 billion; Nestoil Limited, belonging to oil and gas entrepreneur, Ernest Azudialu – N13.506 billion; Dorman Long Engineering – N9.667 billion; Ascott Offshore Nig. Ltd, belonging to former banker, Henry Imasekha and the Berkley Group – N64.728 billion; Gitto Constuzioni – N11.838 billion; and Dansa Foods – N14.880 billion, whose directors, Sani and Abdul Dangote, are the brothers of business mogul, Alhaji Aliko Dangote.
Commercial banks were also directed not to grant further credit to Cross River and Zamfara States because of the failure of the Tinapa Business Resort and Accountant General, Ministry of Finance, Zamfara to pay back loans collected respectively.
The restriction, according to the central bank, came into effect from the date of the circular and shall remain “until full liquidation of agreed indebtedness to AMCON”.
For Zenon Petroleum whose initial debt of N192.423 billion was priced by AMCON at N140.999 billion, the memo showed that “negotiations are ongoing and with fairly clear roadmap”. It also revealed that MRS Holdings’ debt of N119.986 billion, acquired by AMCON at a price of N91.620 billion has been “restructured and is performing”.
Similarly, while the remark on Seawolf’s debt of N98.328 billion that AMCON priced at N88.496 billion was put at “negotiations ongoing,” it showed also that Arik Air’s debt of N85.481 billion which was acquired by AMCON at N62.970 billion has been “restored but there is a moratorium”.
It also showed that while Capital Oil and Gas’ N48.014 billion has been “restructured and awaiting performance,” Rockson’s debt of N60.475 billion, which was acquired by AMCON at N36.331 billion, is still “pending”.
To ensure compliance, the CBN warned that any bank that flouts the guidelines would be made to make an immediate provision of 100 per cent of total principal and interest outstanding in the account of the customer and related parties, in addition to whatever regulatory penalties the CBN may decide to impose.
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