EFCC, AMCON to Reopen Cases of Insider Abuse in Banks

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Obinna Chima

As part of efforts to recover the over N4.6 trillion owed the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) by recalcitrant debtors across the country, the corporation Thursday held a meeting with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Abuja and agreed that cases of insider abuses by bank executives would be reopened for prosecution.

Subsequently, both institutions are reviewing details of some banks and their officials that were instrumental to the abuse and violation of internal processes that led to the huge non-performing loans in AMCON’s portfolio.

According to a statement by AMCON’s Head of Corporate Communications, Jude Nwauzor, the meeting was held to enable both agencies to consolidate on the gains of their relationship especially in the areas of investigating, prosecuting and compelling all obligors of AMCON in accordance with the relevant statutes.

It said AMCON Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Ahmed Kuru and EFCC’s Acting Chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Mustafa Magu, attended the meeting.

Condemning the impunity with which those transactions were done, the EFCC boss affirmed that some of the obligors purportedly took the loans without the intention of paying back, saying they did not envisage that someday an agency like AMCON would come knocking on their doors seeking to recover the loans.

According to him, given the similarity in the objectives of both agencies, there was a need for joint training towards fostering better understanding between AMCON and the EFCC.

While reaffirming the commitment of the EFCC to cooperate and provide the much needed support for AMCON, Magu urged AMCON to ensure justice was done in all cases because most of the obligors might not have acted alone in their unwillingness to repay, but might involve the connivance of some of the bank officials whose motive was to cheat the banks ab-initio.

He said: “In appropriate circumstances, these bankers would also be called upon to account for their roles in granting these questionable facilities.”

The EFCC acting chairman, who welcomed the AMCON boss and his team, described the assignments of both agencies of government as very tough, overwhelming and challenging.

He, however, added that he was happy that AMCON under Kuru was doing everything within its mandate to confront the obligors with all the risks involved in the process of doing so.

He said it was for that reason that EFCC established AMCON Desk with dedicated EFCC officials that ensured that all AMCON related cases in EFCC received speedy attention.

Magu assured Kuru that the AMCON Desk at EFCC would continue to be functional, adding that the EFCC was willing to increase the number of personnel on the desk if so required and would be willing to establish a Lagos branch if necessary to make sure the huge loans were recovered in the interest of the Nigerian economy.

Kuru thanked Magu for receiving the AMCON delegation, expressing appreciation for the anti-graft boss’ passion and cooperation in the collaboration with AMCON towards recovering the enormous bad debts from recalcitrant obligors.
While appreciating the immense contribution of the AMCON Desk at the EFCC, Kuru who thanked the acting chairman for creating that unit that had led to several recoveries, added that AMCON was willing to provide the required support to the AMCON Desk at EFCC by providing information, logistics and training to the team to enable them carry out their assignment without hitches.

Recounting AMCON’s role in the economy especially in the banking sector, he also stated that since its establishment, AMCON acquired debts from 22 banks worth N3.7 trillion and provided financial accommodation to 10 banks of about N2.2 trillion. He observed that despite AMCON’s recovery efforts, the Corporation still holds unresolved loans in excess of N4.6 trillion which represents about 75 per cent of the total national budget. The MD expressed concern that failure on the part of AMCON to resolve the debts will have far reaching implications for the nation at large.

The AMCON boss, who stated that the EFCC and AMCON have similar mandates of ensuring economic stability, which provides another reason for AMCON to collaborate with EFCC and take advantage of the enormous powers of the EFCC, also highlighted some of the challenges militating against AMCON’s recovery efforts to include the slow judicial process, concealment of assets by the obligors, forged documents, and in some instances, collusion between the bankers and the obligors, among others.