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Businessman Loses Billions of Naira, Properties to First Bank

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Businessman Loses Billions of Naira, Properties to First Bank

By Dipo Olowookere

Properties worth millions of Naira and money worth billions of Naira have been lost to First Bank by a businessman and owner of SmartMicro, Mr Michael Obasuyi Osasogie.

The items, which include a total of 116 cars and 20 landed properties scattered in Edo, Rivers and Lagos States, were seized by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and handed over to the financial institution on Wednesday, November 28, 2018.

Trouble began for Mr Osasogie after a petition he wrote to the anti-corruption agency against E-tranzact in March 2018.

The commission had, however, investigated Mr Osasogie’s business interests, following receipt of a counter-petition written by e-tranzact against him and one of his companies, SmartMicro.

SmartMicro was said to have approached e-tranzact in 2012 for the deployment of bulk purchase solution called “Corporatepay” to facilitate payment of salaries of Delta State employees in microfinance banks.

It was also alleged that e-tranzact configured an additional outbound fund transfer solution called “Fundgate” in 2017, which required SmartMicro to maintain a pre-funded settlement account with First Bank Plc for settlement of account it had initiated.

However, e-tranzact had further alleged that the bank, sometime in March 2018, revealed that the settlement account was in debit of N11,498,944,038.29.

Mr Osasogie, in his statement to the EFCC, confessed to have committed the crime, stating that he created fraudulent and imaginary monies through the aid of Fundgate Financial Application from the company.

Consequently, Mr Osasogie was arraigned alongside his firms-Platinum Multi-Purpose Co-operative Society, SmartMicro Systems Limited and Platinum Smart Cruise Motors Limited on May 24, 2018 before Justice Justice Mojisola Dada of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja on a 14-count charge bordering on stealing to the tune of N11.5 billion.

One of the counts reads: “That you, Michael Obasuyi Osasogie, Platinum Multi-Purpose Co-operative Society, SmartMicro Systems Limited and Platinum Smart Cruise Motors Limited, sometime in the year 2016 in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, conspired to commit felony, to wit: stealing of the sum of N11,498, 944, 038.29 property of First Bank Nigeria Ltd.”

He pleaded guilty to the charge preferred against.

During his trial, an investigator with the EFCC, Orji Chukwuma, had told the court how the proceeds of crime were housed in some new generation banks.

Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, Chukwuma had told the court that “SmartMicro Systems Limited assumed a position of a fictitious microfinance bank in Nigeria through a software, Micro switch Server 1.1 created by the defendant as well as two genuine microfinance banks, which he used to carry out his fraud.

“The defendant later opened an account with First Bank Plc and subsequently raised an overdraft from his fictitious microfinance bank for his account in the bank, which it ignorantly paid.”

In his further testimony, the witness had told the court that when e-tranzact disconnected from the chain, all the transactions carried out by the defendant collapsed on his own account with First Bank, thereby leading to the discovery of the fraud.

The sums of N2,903,727,563.92, $37,992.87 and €18,538.09 were recovered by the commission from Mr Osasogie’s accounts in various banks in the country.

The agency also recovered 116 cars and 20 properties located in Lagos, Abuja, Benin and Port Harcourt.

The prosecution counsel had, therefore, urged the court to convict the defendant on counts one to 14, according to the law.

The defendant later entered into plea bargain. The prosecution counsel therefore urged the court to consider the plea bargain entered into by the defendant on May 21, 2018 as judgment in his sentencing.

Counsel to the first and second defendant, Osasu Ogebor, had told the court that his clients went into a plea bargain in order to give out what does not belong to him.

“It is not enough for the accused person to say I am sorry for what he has done. But from his inner heart, he is absolutely sorry, my Lord”, Ogebor had pleaded.

Counsels to the third and fourth defendants also aligned themselves with Ogebor’s prayers.

Delivering her judgment, Justice Dada convicted the defendant on all the counts and sentenced him to one-year imprisonment.

The Judge also ordered the forfeiture of defendant’s 116 buses, 20 properties and monies in various accounts to First Bank Plc.

At the hand- over ceremony, which held in one of the forfeited houses at Osapa London, Lekki-Lagos, Kaina Garba, Head Asset Forfeiture and Recovery Management Unit of the EFCC, Lagos office, handed over the documents and keys to the properties to Gabriel Edobor, Head, Remedial and Classified Assets Management Department, First Bank Plc and Eme Godwin, Group Head, Legal Unit, E-transact.

In a show of appreciation, both Edobor and Godwin thanked the EFCC for ensuring the recovery of the properties through diligent and uncompromising investigative efforts.

Businessman Loses Billions of Naira, Properties to First Bank

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

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Polaris Bank in Safe Hands, No Need to Panic—Management

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Polaris Bank Rewards Customers

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The management of Polaris Bank Limited has urged its customers and members of the public not to panic over reports that the financial institution has been sold to a new investor, Mr Auwal Gombe, in the sum of N40 billion.

It was recently reported that efforts are being made to hand over the lender to the businessman, who is said to be an ally of former military president, Mr Ibrahim Babangida, after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) nationalised the defunct Skye Bank Plc into Polaris Bank in 2018.

In a statement issued on Friday in Lagos, the bank described the report of the purported sale as not only “speculative” but done to deliberately “create panic” among its customers and the banking community.

The company said the CBN established it and injected funds for its operations, it has bounced back to profitability, with a solid balance sheet, saying there is no cause for alarm as the bank was in safe hands.

“Stakeholders may recall the regulatory intervention in the erstwhile Skye Bank by the CBN and the subsequent injection of capital via the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) through a bridge bank process, which birthed Polaris Bank in 2018.

“The bank has since stabilised its operations following the intervention; improving its balance sheet, customer base and profitability,” a part of the notice today said.

Continuing, Polaris Bank noted that, “Whilst the intention has always been to return the bank to private ownership, such a sale would occur following regulatory approvals with formal notification to all relevant stakeholders,” expressing its commitment to “ensuring timely communication to the public in such an event.”

 “The board and management hereby reassure its customers, staff and the general public that Polaris Bank remains a stable, strong and credible financial institution, positioned to deliver sustainable value to all its stakeholders,” the statement concluded.

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Wema Bank Refutes Dud Cheque, Forgery Allegations

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wema-bank-logo

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The management of Wema Bank Plc has rubbished an allegation that it issued a dud cheque in connection with a garnishee proceeding for the payment of a judgement debt on behalf of the Bayelsa State Government.

A legal practitioner, Mr George Haliday, had accused the financial institution of issuing dud cheques but in a statement issued on Wednesday, the lender explained that the cheques have only not been cleared for payment because of the subsisting appeal at the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja on the garnishee proceeding which has now been decided in its favour.

According to the statement, the lawyer only ran to the Magistrate Court in Abuja to lodge a complaint about the issuance of dud cheques after he lost his case at the appellate court.

“It is very worthy of note that the judgement debt against Bayelsa State Government, which Barrister George Haliday attempted to enforce by a garnishee proceeding, thereby leading to the issuance of the cheques in question had been settled by Bayelsa State Government via a Terms of Settlement between Barrister George Haliday and the Bayelsa State Government at the Supreme Court,” a part of the statement.

Recently, there were reports that the Managing Director/CEO of Wema Bank, Mr Ademola Adebise, was issued an arrest warrant, but the bank dismissed this, saying its leader was not given a fair hearing in the matter.

“Wema Bank wishes to state that the warrant for the arrest of Mr Ademola Adebise is in violation of his fundamental rights to fair hearing as he was never personally served with any process to appear before the magistrate court nor was he represented in court.

“We are a law-abiding corporate citizen; if there was any court summons properly served on the Managing Director for his appearance in court, he would have done so without fail.

“But in this case, there was no such service extended to him or any court processes personally served on him to appear in court until a warrant of arrest was issued in absentia. We view the arrest warrant as being an infringement on his fundamental rights,” the statement said.

Concluding, the lender emphatically refuted and dismissed “in their entirety, the allegations of dud cheque and forgery levelled against our bank and the Managing Director. We also dismiss the inappropriate issuance of a bench warrant on our Managing Director.

“We are already engaging in legitimate actions to seek redress and bring all the perpetrators of these unprofessional conducts and heinous criminal acts against our Managing Director and the bank to book.”

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Banking

Advans Nigeria Becomes Most Innovative Microfinance Bank

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Advans MFB

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

More big feathers have been added to the colourful cap of Advans La Fayette Microfinance Bank, cementing its leadership position in the small lending business in Nigeria.

Recently, in recognition of its customer-centric credentials and innovation in product development, service delivery and brand management, the financial institution was named the Best Microfinance Bank in Nigeria at the Financial Derivatives Awards 2022.

Also, the company emerged as the Most Innovative Microfinance Bank in Nigeria in the Global Brands Magazine and World Economic Magazine Awards 2022.

The Managing Director/CEO of Advans La Fayette Microfinance Bank, Mr Gaetan Debuchy, while reacting to the accolades bestowed on the firm, dedicated the awards to the working management and staff of the bank, promising that the bank would continue to break boundaries.

“We are excited to win these awards. It further validates our innovative approach to providing customer-centric, affordable and transparent financial services,” Mr Debuchy said.

Also, the Head of Marketing and Communication at Advans La Fayette Microfinance Bank, Mr Kayode Abraham, stated that, “Over the years, we have centred our business on customer needs and feedback, which has helped us develop financial solutions from scratch to completion. We are pleased to be recognised as the most innovative and best microfinance bank in Nigeria.”

Earlier in the year, Advans Nigeria upgraded its mobile banking app ‘Adspire’ to include users’ ability to request bank statements and control their daily transaction limit. Through the app, clients can receive notifications and share by referring their friends and loved ones.

The bank recently introduced a micro-health insurance product and an education loan to facilitate financial inclusion.

The health insurance product was designed to ensure existing and prospective clients have access to high-quality and affordable health care services, while the education loan was designed to provide working and investment capital for school owners and to assist parents in paying their children’s school fees with ease.

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