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A Federal high court sitting in Ikoyi,Lagos State, south west Nigeria has adjourned till 31st of March 2022 for hearing, the suit instituted against Heritage Bank of Nigeria by a Lagos Lawyer. Barrister Dada Awosika SAN,over alleged manipulation of his account.

  

Mr. Awosika SAN practices under a business name and style of D.A. Awosika & Partners and who maintain a current account with the bank, alleged thus: that Heritage Bank conscripted him to open the aforementioned account in order that the judgment sum arising from certain terms of settlement executed between his clients (Mr. Olajide Aleshiloye Williams/Otunba Segun Jawando) on one hand and the bank on the other hand in Suit No: LD/7313/2014 between Mr. Olajide Aleshiloye Williams/Otunba Segun Jawando vs. Beach Resorts Nigeria Plc/Heritage Bank Limited be paid into the said account.I

In opening the account the bank detailed one of its senior officials to be his account officer to assist in opening the said account and for proper endorsement and execution of the current account opening package which he properly endorsed leading to normal operation of the said account.

At all material times, he agreed with the bank to run and operate the said current account in line with good banking standard and employ the best ethical and professional manner consistent with global best practice. Further to the aforementioned paragraphs and in line with the consent judgment entered on the 12th of January 2016 between the Plaintiff’s client and the Bank, the bank paid a total sum of N250,000,000.00 into the Plaintiff’s stated account as judgment sum at various times in February, 2016, May 2016 and August 2016 for the benefit of the Plaintiff’s clients who were Claimants in Suit number

LD/7313/2014.

Surprisingly, in the narration contained in the statement of account of the Plaintiff, the bank manipulated the narration and discreetly described the payment as fees to the Plaintiff.

Mr. Awosika, SAN, avers that it was an implied term of the banker-customer relationship between parties herein and of the mandate submitted to the bank by him that the Bank would exercise reasonable skill and care in the running of his account and that at no time will the banking and financial records of the Plaintiff be furnished or made available to a third party except with his consent and/or in a normal execution of a valid and subsisting order of court.

However, in breach of the sacred mandate donated to the bank for the running of the Plaintiff’s account, the bank disclosed, furnished and passed over to the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) the Plaintiff’s financial and banking detail and this ultimately led FIRS to issue notice to the Plaintiff to remit unpaid taxes for 2016/2017 (as Company Income Tax and Value Added Tax (VAT)} directing the Plaintiff to pay the sum of N23,274,166.19 being turn over of N258,601,846.53 in custody of the bank.

The Plaintiff immediately responded to the FIRS letter and debunked the insinuation and misconceptions that the Plaintiff was operating as a limited liability company to pay Income Tax. Thereafter it came as a shock to the Plaintiff that the bank posted POST NO DEBIT on the Plaintiff account without any communication to the Plaintiff in compliance with a directive of FIRS.

Upon protest at the Bank’s premises at Adeola Odeku on the 6th of February, 2019, the bank informed the Plaintiff that the freezing order on the Plaintiff’s account was directed to be placed by FIRS as a result of banking and financial details submitted to FIRS by the Bank The Plaintiff made further protest to FIRS headquarters in Abuja, which later issued directive to the bank to remove the ‘Post No Debit’ and any other freezing orders, placed on the Plaintiff’s account since February 4, 2019. The bank placed this Post No Debit’ on the Plaintiff’s account without any order of court and also the bank furnished the Plaintiff’s banking and financial records to FIRS without order of court or consent of the Plaintiff.

 

The Plaintiff alleged further that he made several transfers and cash deposits into his firm’s account with the bank, When the bank thereafter sent notifications of receipt of this transfers and cash deposits, the Plaintiff discovered that the bank had surreptitiously applied a debit of over N23 Million into the Plaintiff’s firm’s account without notice of such activity to the Plaintiff.

The Plaintiff further avers that the bank appropriated, converted and utilized the entire credit balance in the Plaintiff’s firm’s account as well as all transfers and cash deposits made into the said account in purported satisfaction of repayment obligations in regard to a purported phony debt allegedly outstanding and payable to the bank.

On Wednesday the 20th of November, 2019, the Plaintiff visited the Defendant’s Ashabi Cole branch, Agidingbi, Ikeja being the nearest branch to the Plaintiff’s office to vehemently protest the fraudulent manipulation of his firm’s account but was informed by the manager on duty that the branch could not help him as there was no complaint resolution mechanism available to resolve the issue in that branch.

However, the manager of Ashabi Cole branch of the bank confirmed the debit of over N23Million lumped into the Plaintiff’s firm’s account and advised that the Plaintiff write the bank detailing his complaint to the bank’s Managing Director for expeditious resolution.

The Plaintiff avers that the bank sent his firm’s account’s November, 2019 statement to him on the 2nd of December 2019 and it came as a shock to the Plaintiff that the bank hid or covertly suppressed the debit of over N23Million in the said Plaintiff’s account.

Sequel to this, the Plaintiff made further cash transfers to his account on the 2nd and 7th December, 2019, and surprisingly, when notifications were sent to the Plaintiff, those cash deposits were illegally and wrongfully applied by the bank to a non-existent repayment obligation of the N23Million

cooked up by the bank into the Plaintiff’s firm account.

In a bid to get to the bottom of the fraudulent manipulation of the Plaintiff’s account, the Plaintiff wrote the bank in his letter of December 2, 2019 received the same day to demand for the immediate removal of over N23 Million illegally debited and posted into the Plaintiff’s firm account.

The Plaintiff avers that the bank fraudulently manipulated the Plaintiff’s firm account and posted a bogus debit of over N23Million into the said account without the Plaintiff’s consent and no information was made available to the Plaintiff regarding this illegal and phony debit and there was no court order directing that this debit of over N23 million be posted into the Plaintiff’s account.

 

In the statement of particulars of fraud,the Plaintiff stated that: He has no subsisting repayment obligation arising from any overdraft or transaction involving the use of depositors’ funds at the instance of the Plaintiff to warrant any repayment obligation.

The bank appropriated the credit balance in the Plaintiff’s account in excess of N76,000. in satisfaction of a sham and bogus debit of over N23 Million Naira.

All cash deposits and transfers made into the Plaintiff’s firm’s account were utilized, converted and appropriated by the bank without seeking the Plaintiff’s consent and without an order of court to that effect.

The bank discreetly narrated judgment sum payment to the Plaintiff’s clients as fees paid to the Plaintiff when in fact there were no

narration of services rendered by the Plaintiff to the bank to justify such.

The Defendant disguised the payment of N250 Million to the Plaintiff’s clients as fees to the Plaintiff to avoid payment of VAT and Witholding tax to the relevant government agencies.

The bank operated the Plaintiff’s account outside the standard of good banking practice and that the bank conducted its banking business outside the ethical and professional manner consistent with global best practice;

The bank did not bring to the Plaintiff’s attention the origin/source of the bogus and illegal debit of over N23Million posted to the Plaintiff’s account as against the standard practice for a banking outfit to bring to the attention of their customers any form of activity or information concerning their accounts.

The bank breached the duty to exercise reasonable skill and care as well as that of confidentiality in the running of the Plaintiff’s account.

He did not at any time apply for and utilize any overdraft facility, nor did he apply for credit facility from the bank to justify any set off or appropriation of the Plaintiff’s credit balance or cash deposits made into the Plaintiff’s account.

The Plaintiff shall rely on several Central Bank Of Nigeria (CBN)’s circulars and regulations as well as code of conduct in the Nigerian Banking Industry signed to by the bank to prove various violations against the bank espoused above.

The Plaintiff has suffered loss and damage as a result of the fraudulent manipulation of his firm’s account, depriving him access to his much needed funds in the said account and for several violations by the bank of crucial banking ethics and standard.

Consequently the Plaintiff’s claims against the Heritage bank are as follows:

A declaration that the bank was not entitled in law to appropriate and convert to its own use the credit balance of N76,000.00 and several other cash deposits made into the Plaintiff’s firm’s account at various times in purported satisfaction of a non existing debt obligation allegedly owed to the bank by the Plaintiff thus breaching the fiduciary duty and duty of care owed the Plaintiff in the running and operation of the said Plaintiff’s account.

A declaration that the bank fraudulently manipulated the Plaintiff’s firm’s account by surreptitiously hiding, disguising and posting a bogus debt of over N23Million into the Plaintiff ‘s said account and the bank illegally coverted,appropriated and utilized all the credit balance and several other cash deposited into into the Plaintiff’s debit and of said account utilized in purported satisfaction of a non existing debt.

A declaration that the bank failed to exercise reasonable skill and care in carrying out its banking business in relation to the Plaintiff’s firm’s account, when the bank illegally debited the Plaintiff’s account with the sum of over N23Million without any order of court and most importantly when the Plaintiff did not utilize any overdraft nor have any collateral transactional agreement for over draft or trade finance facility on the said account

 

An order of the Court directing the bank to forthwith expunge and reverse the bogus illegal debit of the sum of N23Million applied to the Plaintiff’s firm’s account and also immediately credit the Plaintiff’s account with all sums already appropriated, converted and utilized by the bank with interest at Central Bank Premises (CBN) prime lending rate of 25%

An order of the Court directing the bank to pay the sum of N650Million as general, aggravated, fraudulently manipulating, appropriating and converting the credit balance and other cash deposits made into the Plaintiff’s account and for the bank’s failure to exercise reasonable skill and care in the running of the Plaintiff’s account and for the breach of fiduciary duty and confidentiality.

Cost of this action as the Court may deem fit to order.

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BUA Group Threatens To Sue GREENVILLE LNG Gas Company – For Breach Of Multimillion Dollar Contract

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Two years after it was slammed with a $9m claim for breaching contract by a US Court, Greenville LNG company is on the brink of another lawsuit in its supply dealings with Nigerian-based manufacturing giant, BUA Group.

 

Owned by Eddy Van Den Broeke , a Belgian cement magnate, *Greenville* is the pioneer Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) production and distribution company in Nigeria with three liquefaction trains and a total capacity to produce 2250 MT of LNG per day.

 

The company, which was incorporated in 2013, prides itself for producing and marketing Liquefied Natural Gas to customers across Nigeria since April 2019.

 

It should be noted that the company is a Nigerian subsidiary of the International Engineering & Construction (IEC), a Luxembourg-based construction company.

 

However, in 2018, there were reports of how *Broeke* was struggling to get his LNG project off the ground in Nigeria and also facing a $9m claim from his subcontractor Baker Hughes.

 

How it started

 

In 2014, IEC through Greenville LNG entered into an agreement with Baker Hughes Energy Services LLC, formerly known as GE Oil & Gas (GEOG), for the purchase and installation of two small-scale liquified natural gas plants in Rumuji, Rivers State, Nigeria.

 

According to the documents obtained by POLITICS NIGERIA, GEOG agreed to supply IEC with two small-scale liquified natural gas production plants — the first by June 24, 2015, and the second by September 24, 2015— for use at the Rumuji Site.

 

In exchange, IEC agreed to pay GEOG $95 million. Both parties also agreed on a payment schedule, which would require IEC to pay various percentages of the $95 million at specific milestones.

 

It was stated that the agreement would be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the state of New York.

 

Unfortunately, GEOG failed to deliver the gas plants by their contractual delivery deadlines and this stalled installation, commissioning, and start-up of the Plants.

 

Arbitration

 

On July 31, 2018, IEC filed a Notice of Demand for and Commencement of Arbitration under the Contracts on behalf of itself and Greenville.

 

IEC initially sought approximately $75 million in damages but its demand increased to $700 million by the end of the arbitration.

 

The $700m claims included the liquidated damages for delayed delivery and damages associated with the delayed entry into operation of the gas plants.

 

But GEOG also filed counterclaims against IEC for breach of the contracts, asking for damages up to $40.1 million.

 

In 2020, the American Tribunal gave its verdict, ordering IEC and Greenville to pay GEOG over $9.5m for breaching contracts.

 

The Tribunal held that IEC had breached the Equipment Contract by failing to make two Milestone payments.

 

Dissatisfied with the judgement, On January 27, 2021, IEC filed a petition to vacate the Award in New York state court but the court rejected IEC’s arguments.

 

“In short, due to the strong deference owed to the decisions of arbitrators, the Court is compelled to reject IEC’s arguments and confirm the Award,” the court ruled.

 

*Poor Ethics/Underhand Business Practices*

 

It is believed that the posture of the company and record of breaching contract is owing to its owner’s secretive and shady business activities. Prior to setting up Greenville, Eddy Van Den Broeke ran ASCA bitumen from 1996 and grew the company into becoming a giant monopoly with over 90% of the Nigerian market by 2015.

 

Through this position, he was famed to hold everyone to ransom through alleged arbitrary price increases, artificial scarcity, amongst others. Eddy Broeke’s families were one of six of Belgium’s wealthiest families that featured on the Panama Papers, a cross-border investigation that revealed a list of thousands of people who channelled funds to tax havens.

 

“The family of *Eddy* *Van* *Den* *Broeke* , who turned the Eres company into an international player, is also mentioned. Eddy Van Den Broeke is identified as the sole beneficiary of at least five offshore companies in the BVI,” the ICIJ report read.

 

Eddy was named in the Panama Papers having had an extensive network of shell companies to hide his funds and avoid government oversight.

 

*Another multi-million dollar breach of contract suit looming*

 

Our investigations also revealed that recently, BUA, which is one of Greenville’s largest clients, is set to sue Greenville for 50 billion Naira for a possible breach in contract and reneging on its obligation to supply gas to its businesses in the far north.

 

According to sources, this dispute is as a result of Greenville LNG reneging on their contract with BUA to supply gas and also increasing prices arbitrarily despite the contractually agreed oil-indexed pricing for any changes in price.

 

Industry watchers1 have claimed that Greenville is trying to take advantage of its near monopoly in the domestic trucked LNG market hence their habit of entering into contracts and reneging on it after starting.

 

With Eddy and his companies’ history of reneging on contracts entered into with the Federal Government, partners, suppliers, communities and clients, it is unlikely that Greenville LNG or its billionaire owner *Eddy* and Managing Director , *Ritu* *Sahajwalla* would stop such behaviour anytime soon.

 

Experts familiar with BUA’s history of ensuring its rights are enforced, believe BUA will pursue this issue to a logical conclusion at the courts and till their rights are enforced.

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Yemisi Imasi, CEO of Yellowpoint Group Declared Wanted by Nigeria Police For Fraud

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The Nigeria Police Force has declared Victoria Yemisi Imasi, CEO of Yellowpoint Group wanted.

 

The warrant of arrest was issued by the Magistrate/High Court of Lagos, according to the special police Gazette .

 

The publication shows that the 46-year-old is wanted for fraud, obtaining money under false pretense, and stealing in Lagos by the assistant inspector general of the police Criminal Investigation Department, (FCID) Alagbon, Ikoyi – Lagos.

 

*Sketchy* *operations* : The development followed a petition by Chive GPS, a dispute resolution company that provides debt recovery solutions on issues bothering on obtaining money by false pretense and fraud against Imasi.

 

The debt recovery company had laid a criminal complaint, dated 16th July 2021, of a well-orchestrated theft by Imasi following an advert by her company, Yellow Point Media Enterprise, and Yellow Point FT International Ltd on social media channels.

 

One of the affected victims suffered a N47.73 million loss after transferring the money to different accounts operated by Imasi’s company with the intention of investing genuinely in the various investment packages in exchange for a fixed return.

 

Amount owed to subscribers: While the exact amount owed to all subscribers is unknown yet, reports indicate that the amount owed may sum up to billions of Naira.

 

On a platform, victims claim that over N10 billion was deceitfully and fraudulently collected from over 6000 Nigerians with the intention of trading forex.

 

The petition signed by 689 users as of press time accuses Yemisi of diverting the money to fund her lavish lifestyle and buying properties.

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