N5.4tn Debt: AMCON Goes Tough, to Seize Assets of Debtors

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• To go after directors of debtor companies

By Ugo Aliogo with agency report

The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) has said there will be no more room for negotiation with its debtors, declaring that it  is set for a new stage.

This new stage, according to AMCON, would involve complete take-over of the assets of its chronic debtors.

The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of AMCON, Mr. Ahmed Kuru, who disclosed in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja yesterday, said the N5.4 trillion debt owed the corporation had lingered for too long.

He also disclosed that in cases where the registered assets of a company that is indebted to the corporation are not enough to clear their obligation, AMCON will go after the directors and their private companies.

Kuru said AMCON had gotten tired of obligors (debtors), coming to its office to tell lies about planing to embark on staggered payments which they end up never complying with.

He said part of the N5.4 trillion had been with the banks for five years before AMCON bought over the bad loans, adding that after seven years of the companies’ operations, the obligors were yet to pay.

“Resolutions through staggered plans have never worked. Let us not forget that before those loans were transferred to AMCON, they have been with the banks for over five years.

“Now, AMCON is almost seven years, so the facility has been running badly for 12 years. It is not easy to recover those kinds of facilities.

“So, now we have changed our strategy from sitting down and drinking tea and the obligors telling us lies and we pretend that we don’t know you are telling us lies.

“There is no more time for lies because we have a sunset period.  So, now our focus is on recovery.  We do not want to hear anything; you cannot come and tell me you are going to pay me in the next six years, I do not have that time.

“If you cannot pay me the money now then give me my assets because the assets belong to AMCON so that we can sell it.”

He said as part of the new strategy of AMCON, directors of companies would now be sought after so that they would be forced to take part in repaying the loans.

“We are training our people more to see that they become more efficient.

“Most fundamentally we have changed our strategy. Before now, our strategy had been only resolution: you come, you give us a payment plan and we respect it.

“But we have realised that more than 80 per cent of AMCON’s recoveries are as a result of either forfeiture or taking over of businesses or outright cash payment.

“My law allows me to not only go after the assets that are served as collateral but I can also go after the directors of companies. I can go after the assets that have not been served as collateral.

“This is where we are now heading to because the law had anticipated this situation that we are now in,” he said.

Speaking further on the way forward for AMCON, Kuru said there was need for some sections of the law to be amended, adding that the company was working with the National Assembly to amend relevant laws.

For him, the National Assembly had been very good so far and had been working hard to close the gaps.

THISDAY had reported that the total amount of recovered debt by AMCON as at the end of 2017 was N740 billion.

Kuru had pointed out that the corporation was in possession of a lot of real estate and some other forms of assets.

He said: “We have disposed some financial assets, which also included three banks. We are in the process of divesting our interest in Peugeot Automobile Nigeria (PAN).

“This is in addition to quite a number of small businesses that we had intervened and disposed.”

He put the value of AMCON’s intervention in the agriculture sector at about N1.7 trillion.

“The structure of AMCON at conception was that, there was the assumption that those loans that were purchased would be restructured and liquidity provided so that new life would be given to some of those businesses.

“Unfortunately, a substantial part of businesses that were restructured and funds injected in the past, the performance level is less than 10 per cent. “Like I said earlier, there was the assumption that if you transfer the loans from the banks to an asset management corporation, you will be able to restructure.

“But again, we forgot that some of those facilities were bad in the books of some of those financial institutions,” he had explained.