The financial institution with Nigeria`s fuel subsidy Chairman, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede as Managing Director, Access Bank, is at the centre of simmering controversies as customers now wonder if it is a financial institution or a fraud haven as recent revelations have shown different ways the bank defrauds its customers.
Apart from the cool mien behind the faces of Access Bank Managing Director and his deputy, Aig-Imokhuede and Herbert Wigwe, behind that faces are crooked and mean bankers who always have it at the back of their mind with intent to the fraud their clients.
Investigation revealed that some of the bank staffers now conspire to rob customers of their hard earned money. An example of such incident was the robbery of one Mr. Austine Arinze Ufondu, a popular customer of Access bank`s Alaba 3, Old Ojo Road branch in Lagos State. Mr. Ufondu carries out his business in the popular Alaba market.
Reliable sources disclosed that Mr. Ufondu who operates a current account (A/c 0005971194) with Access bank visited his branch on 8/11/12 to withdraw three hundred and five thousand naira only (=N=305,000:00) and was given denomination of =N=500 notes which amounted to =N=180,000 and =N=200 that amounted to=N=125,000. Our sources revealed that Mr.Ufondu complained to the cashier about the bulkiness of the cash considering the denomination given to him by the cashier. The cashier insisted that the only available denomination was what he gave Mr. Ufondu.
Those in the know added that while the conversation was going on between the cashier and Mr. Ufondu, the cashier was busy making calls on his phone with his ear piece. The cashier was allegedly over heard on phone saying, have paid him and he is on his way out. After much persuasion, Mr. Ufondu collected the money and wrapped it in a grey polythene bag. The cashier who had on his chest a tag with the name Chibueze attended to Mr. Ufondu.
Eyewitnesses divulged that just as Mr. Ufondu walked out of the bank, right at the front of the bank building, two men walked up to him with guns under their cloths and took him to a car where he was asked to drop the money with him in the car and walk away without raising any alarm.
“For so many customers that came into the bank for withdrawal yesterday, the cashier paid us with N500 and N200 notes respectively. When I was paid, I told him this money is risky for me but he never listened. Just as I walked out of the bank to get a cab, I was robbed of all the money I had on me at gunpoint. Two innocent looking guys walked up to me and showed me guns. They told me to walk to a car packed close by. I was threatened that if I dont cooperate they ‘ll shoot me. I did and they asked me to leave gently. All this happened in the front of the bank. It is really painful that Access bank is not protecting the customers interest. I want to believe there is an informant in the bank. I suspect the cashier that paid me because of his phone conversation”. So many people have complained of such occurrence at that branch of Access Bank branch and now am a victim, Mr. Ufondu revealed.
Mr. Ufondu claimed he went back to the bank to make his complaint but was ignored by the bank manager. This negligence leads him to wait outside the bank after closing hours and had the cashier, Chibueze arrested by the police.
Resident of the area revealed that on the same day Mr. Ufondu was robbed, three other customers lost huge amount of money to robbers at the same branch in the bank premises.
Similarly, it will be recalled that one of their clients who have been a victim of the fraudulent activities of these bankers is Ayo Adedoyin the owner Doyin Motors that alleged Access Bank illegally diverted total sum of N182 million from the account of Doyin Motors Limited with Access Bank Plc. Doyin Motors in February 2006 took N80million credit facility from Access Bank to finance the initial operational cost of its land logistics contract N0. S14866 with Shell at its Western Division in Ogunu, Warri, Delta State worth N1, 736,643,000.
In the process of executing the contract according to the General Manager of Doyin Motors, Mr. Niyi Adekoya, the company noticed that over a period of time funds totaling about N182, 005,783.40 intended for domiciliation into the company account with Access Bank had been diverted to the personal accounts of certain people believed to be staff of the company without any authorization by Doyin Motors.
On noticing the anomaly Doyin Motors according to the petition written to EFCC and Police Anti-Fraud Unit signed by its Managing Director, Mr. Ayorinde Adedoyin caused a letter to be written to Access Bank to explain the movement of the whopping sum without the knowledge of the company.
It is reply dated August 15, 2008 and signed by Mr. Innocent Ike, General Manager Commercial Banking Group, Access Bank and Rex Biose, Relationship Manager, Access Bank Warri, the bank stated that the money was used to pay salaries to Doyin Motors Staff working on the Shell contract based on payment instruction received from First Bank and SPDC.“We have conluded further investigations into the above issue and wish to confirm that all the payments to the drivers were made based on payment instruction received from First Bank Plc requesting Access Bank Plc to credit their accounts by order of SPDC Limited Warri. We have attached photocopies of the said payment instructions and accompanying schedules for your records.
”While we appreciate the inconveniences this development might have caused you, we want to reassure you of our determination to achieve an early resolution of this issue,” the Access Bank letter read.
The major bone of contention now was the claim by Access Bank that Doyin Motors is owing it N135,964,920.00 as a result of interests and other charges arising from the loan which it got an Exparte Order from Federal High Court Ikoyi to appoint a receiver manager to wind up Doyin Motors business.
In stating Doyin Motors position on its indebtedness to Access Bank the GM, Mr. Adekoya said, “We want to state equivocally that Doyin Motors is not in any way indebted to Access Bank as our company has paid all outstanding debt to the bank as far as we are concerned. We believe it is Access Bank that is indebted to Doyin Motors having colluded with some Shell Staff to fraudulently divert the sum of N182, 005,783.40 from our account to unknown private accounts.
“It is important to stress at this point that the issue of our company’s so-called indebtedness to Access Bank is a matter of litigation before a Lagos High Court and investigation before EFCC and Police Special Anti-Fraud Unit.
“We find it curious that Access Bank could be so desperate by running to Federal High Court to get exparte order against us when the same case is subject of determination before Lagos State High Court. While it is true that our company took from Access Bank. We find it strange the company that has turned over N1.5 billion with Access Bank within the last three years still owes what the bank is claiming. What we are asking for is the reconciliation of the account to ascertain some identified irregularities. We are contesting with Access Bank issues of illegal charges and diversion of our funds without authorization among other sundry issues.
“It sounds funny when Access Bank said it received instruction and order from First Bank and Shell to divert money from our account to pay our staff without our authorization. When has it become the job of our client and its banker to give instruction on payment of our staff salary from our account with Access Bank? We want to know if Shell and First Bank are signatories to Doyin Motors account,” said Adekoya.
Doyin Motors also claimed that Shell made payment of N94.565.
Million into its account with Access Bank about two weeks from which it has not drawn a kobo adding that the claim of N135. 964 million debt for which Access Bank sealed its office since last week remain strange more so when the issues are still for determination before a competent court and security agencies.
Though the court has ruled that they should settle the case out of court but Shell has also come out to deny that it at no time authorized the bank to tamper with Doyin’s money.
In another case of outright fraud similar to that of Doyin Motors, another company Lucratel Nigeria Limited, an indigenous telecommunication engineering firm, reputed for the building of cell sites.
It was gathered that a tripartite domiciliation agreement between parties was agreed where all monies for the job were to be paid by Ericsson to Access Bank for Lucratel to use in carrying out the job.
To facilitate the delivery of the assigned tasks, as Ericsson paid, Access Bank hid details of all monies paid into the account, gave Lucratel impressions of borrowing the firm monies while Ericsson did not pay thus, consistently making the company to be in permanent debt. Conflicts arose between customer and bank. At a point, the bank went to the Federal High Court in Ikoyi-Lagos and deceived the court into giving her some reliefs.
They used the reliefs to take over the company and needed to go for the collateral of the company. Justice James T. Tsoho then demanded evidence of service of the court processes on the client before he would grant the interlocutory injunction. At this point, they served Lucratel.
For once, the company got details of purported insider of their account. They got a Forensic Chartered Accountant and a law firm whose reports showed insider manipulations of the bank and how the bank had planned from inception how to rip the company of its hard earned monies.
Frank Abayilo, a telecommunications engineer, and the Managing Director of Lucratel specializing in providing Telecommunication Support Service such as construction of Base stations (Cell Sites) in Nigeria and abroad, having built over 300 Base stations or Cell Sites across the geo-political zones of Nigeria for different reputable Network Operators in Nigeria, got a contract awarded her by Messrs LM Ericsson for the Construction of Telecommunications Cell Sites for several locations at over N1,114,166,328.12 (One Billion, One hundred and sixty-six million, three hundred and twenty eight hundred, twelve kobo).
Access Bank Plc approached his company with a proposal to finance the contract through a Credit facility vide Project Financing. The parties settled for the Credit facility of N291 million for a period of 180 days based on the proposal vide an offer letter dated 10 th August 2005. As a result, Access Bank Plc got payment of the proceed of over N2.8. Billion from LM Ericsson and other network operator contracts made to Lucratel by virtue of the Tripartite Domiciliation agreement.
Lucratel, on request, submitted all the relevant papers for its verification and due diligence on the proposed financing arrangement to Access Bank Plc. It was on the strength of this that the bank approved the loan facility of N291m and used the proceeds of the facility to open the Account.
The bank used the cash proceed from the LM Ericsson contract, which was secured by the Domiciliation Agreement, as a guarantee for the facility. Upon demanding that LM Ericsson Nigeria Limited be made to sign into an irrevocable Tripartite Domiciliation agreement thereby domiciling all payments with respect to the project directly to the Bank, Messrs LM Ericsson had initially expressed reservations entering into a tripartite agreement, not being convinced of the bank’s commitment due to the attitude of Nigerian Banks, and their unwillingness to support the development of private companies even in lucrative projects.
Part of the agreements reached between parties is that the loan was to be paid only from the proceeds received from LM Ericsson Nigeria Limited as the contract proceeds was enough to repay the interest on the loan, and sufficient to cover the profit of the bank, as the guarantee for the loan was the proceed of the contract.
One of the weaknesses of the agreement was that the bank was solely responsible for the financial management, advisory services and administration of the Ericsson contract proceed making the bank receive all payments from LM Ericsson without any recourse to Lucratel.
Access bank kept all records of payment received, and up until a date failed and refused to avail their client a report on their account. It is noteworthy that as part of the financial management and advisory responsibility of the bank. She mandated all contractors and suppliers of Lucratel’s telecommunication materials to open accounts directly with Access Bank in the same branch as the client, thereby, making so much money courtesy of the client’s interest.
The bank paid all the suppliers and contractors directly from the client’s account without recourse to them. When conflict arose, the bank failed and refused to render all accounts to the client of payments received on the project and the state of its account profile and status.
Our investigations show that Lucratel’s loan facility of N291m issued by the bank had an inflow from LM Ericsson within the tenure of the loan in excess of over N500m collected by the bank for that period which ordinarily fully paid back the loan and the interest on the account.
Lucratel at a point got a statement of account unilaterally compiled by the bank which confirmed receipt of all relevant payments by Pay Advice slip from LM Ericsson to cover the loan facility. The bank was accused by its client whom the latter intentionally placed its account in debit using illegal software.
Lucratel accused Access Bank of having gotten an all time payments from LM Ericsson, MTN, V-Mobile and other jobs of theirs to the tune of N2,459,043,208.18k as against the bank’s claim of N1,291,427,742.72k as disclosed by their bank statement. These figures were from Access Bank’s statement. From this, Lucratel and Access Bank is clearly in dispute.
Legal interpretations from lawyers contacted but who, because the matter is already before a court refused to be named said, “it is the trite law that when a bank and a company are in dispute. The issue of receivership cannot arise.”
Access Bank Plc knowing this abandoned the spirit and letters of the law to appoint one Olurotimi Williams, a Receivership firm, to undertake the receivership of Lucratel.
Access Bank Plc had approached the FHC Ikoyi where they misled the court into giving them an interim order. This order was what they used in firming the appointment of Olurotimi Williams whence they invaded Lucratel on the 30 th July 2010, took their files, documents, computers and other allied with properties.
Meanwhile, Lucratel had written a petition to the CBN months before this setting asking for investigation of the conducts of the bank. The CBN maintained a studied silence of collaboration.
Access Bank Plc returned to the court to seek for the interlocutory injunction. That was where the presiding judge, Justice James Tsoho, demanded to know if the parties in the matter had been served. He ordered, they must be served. That was how and when Lucratel got documents the bank took to court on the 3 rd August 2010.
That offered the company insight and appointed a forensic chartered accountant whose reports opened the unethical practices of Access Bank Plc in this matter. Lucratel’s lawyers responded to Access Bank’s 32 paragraph affidavit with a 132 paragraph reply.
Then the court resumed on the 15th October 2010, the bank asked for more time to file their response.
On resumption on the 25th November 2010, they applied for more time, and the judge granted same and adjourned to 26 th January 2011.
As the court day nears, operatives of the Ikoyi office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) based on alleged complaints from the bank set net traps for Abayilo and his counsel. Operatives were in court but could not get their targets. Neither could we also contact the clients.
According to Lucratel’s Managing Director, Frank Abayilo, “Access Bank employed negative internal banking policies through the use of banking software perpetually configured to place our account in debit, including wrong posting, entries and double charges and as such all payments received from Messrs LM Ericsson throughout the duration of the project was made not to be enough at any point to put our account in credit.
He accused Access Bank of “single handedly bringing and introducing Westcon Wireless Limited to the project and imposed her on us as the sole company from where we were to purchase towers, shelters & other cell site materials, for the execution of the LM Ericsson’s project. The bank was responsible for paying Westcon Wireless Limited directly from the loan facility with them without recourse to us. The records are there to show.”
The financial consultant, Mr. Edward Adeolu, of Alphabeta Consultants & Management Services, was engaged by Lucratel Limited and Mr. Frank Abayilo to carry out a detailed financial analysis of their account No. 0140010016704 with the Access Bank Plc. The final analysis showed the instances of the acts of mismanagement of their account with the bank.
The forensic analysis, already pleaded in court, and made available to us, showed that Access Bank is liable to refund all funds as as excess , unauthorized charges; deliberate wrong posting and unauthorized withdrawals and entries into Lucratel’s accounts and the mismanagement of the contract proceed from LM Ericsson.
It asked why he did not ask the bank for reconciliation, Abayilo said, “on several occasions, we requested a joint meeting to reconcile the accounts with them in order to determine the exact amount of profit due to us from the contract proceeds. The bank consistently and carefully avoided, but I always knew that the loan had been fully paid, and we are not indebted to the bank.”
He added, “In 2008 Access Bank strangely refused to oblige giving us full details of the total proceed of the contract or oblige any such reconciliation meeting, but prefer to issue controversial statement of Account, which does not in any way explain the issues raised by us, and we had successfully disputed the previous statements on each occasion.
“In response, we carried out a variation of the work we did for Ericsson upon request by them. The payment for the variation work was delayed by Messrs Ericsson for months to the knowledge and understanding of the bank that fervently followed up with the payment from Ericsson.
“Ericsson eventually paid the sum of N74 million as full payments thereof. However, as soon as the bank received the payment, it immediately received same and returned our account into debit of less N74m.
One thing is obvious that the restructured loan was signed under duress and on the pretence that we will be given the funds if we get another project, a ploy by the bank to escape CBN and NDIC regulatory checks and supervision. The bank merely used the restructuring as a decoy to repackage their unauthorized charges in the name of part-financing stocksfor cell sites when they knew that we were no longer building cell sites for Ericsson and so stocking cell sites materials was abstract.
The bank lied and never released any sum out of the purported N650m for the purchase of stock to us, and no such stock was purchased by the Bank to our knowledge and consent. We also at no time bought stock of any value from funds derived from the restructured facility.
Rather some of the Bank staff, including Mrs. Iyabo Soji-Okusanya at several times coerced our store keeper to try to inflate stock review in a bid to shore the value of the alleged stock to avoid the query and investigation of the Central Bank.
In addition, the bank ensured and supervised the illegal and unprofessional manipulation of our account and intentionally ensured that we never received all the relevant banking documents and statements of accounts required to carry out an independent financial investigation on the account to establish the exact position of the account.
Access Bank merely used our account as a cover up to its books of account. They use our company account to shore up their share holders funds and misled the CBN to believe that Access Bank have an un recovered debt valued at over N1.2b, even when they knew that the account has been dormant due to mismanagement, manipulation of our accounts and all manners of fraud.
Follow up and refusal of the bank to provide a proper statement of Account to us led us to brief a firm of Chartered Forensic Accountants and Auditors Abu Adah & Co.,who requested for the statement of account, credit advice and all relevant books of account. Access Bank Plc refused to oblige us any of the documents.
After taking a careful analysis of some of the doctored statement of accounts submitted by Access Bank, the firm of auditors, Abu Adah raised an alarm and alerted us on the need to request through them for some crucial documents relating to our account.
The documents include: Interest rate chargeable on the banking finance, tenure support, Level of approval for the financial support, type of category support, minutes of meetings or details of discussion precedent to the approval of financial arrangements. Pre-determined or schedule of principal and interest repayment, Relevant assessment of financial risk made by Access Bank Plc. (these should include copies of APG, performance bonds. Insurance covers, etc. where obtainable). Evidence of waivers was granted, any other documents to support bank approvals.
Following the refusal of Access Bank to release the statement of account, credit advice and other relevant books of account, we also briefed the firm of GaulGate Law firm to request for the same documents, the bank again failed and refused to reply to any of the letters or release the documents until the date.
“Since we got irked by the failure, negligence, refusal and antics of the bank to accede to the request. We sent a petition of financial misconduct to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for proper investigation of the breach of Banker-customer relationship based on mismanagement of the account, illegal, multiple and excess bank charges. Conversion of client’s funds for purposes and theft perpetrated by Access Bank”.
The delay of the CBN to investigate the grievous allegations against the bank led us in writing another petition to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria dated 26 th August 2010. The President through one of his Senior Special Advisers forwarded the petition to the CBN to investigate the issues.
However, we eventually discovered that the statement of account issued by the bank which formed the basis of the debt that they seek to recover is different from the other statements of accounts submitted to us in piece meal. The bank in a later statement showed that the previous one they availed us contains very strange and curious figures/transactions in the account hitherto unknown to us including wrong posting, unauthorized payments, double entries and unilateral withdrawals by staff of Access Bank to pay suppliers and some unknown persons.
The deliberate refusal, failure and negligence of Access bank and its staffers to provide all the relevant documents required to audit and ascertain the financial standing of the account is a breach of the Bank/Customer relationship that they owe us.
Access Bank has sufficiently exhibited the highest level of bad faith, poor management skill, lack of vision, non-existing risk management strategies and flawed financial tactics all pre-arranged to defraud us of our hard-earned resources from the LM Ericsson contract.
Access Bank Plc from the onset clearly worked out a scheme to defraud and have indeed, defrauded our company to the tune of over N1,112,074,057.97k by the statement of Account and pay slip advise provided by them.
It is very clear that from the bank statement presented eventually by the bank, shows that a total sum of N1, 168,067,325.04k meant for project execution was used for operations, payment to contractors, staff salaries and interest. While we generated cash inflow of N2,459,043,208.18k as revenue and advances to the account between the periods under review (1 st January 2006 – 9 th June 2009) shown in the statement of Account, we received only one loan facility of N291, 000,000. 00k in 2005 which was covered by the debenture and has been repaid in full with interest.
Now, the total loan and advances given to us by Access Bank Plc as captured in the bank statement subject to verification is N1,164,000,000.00k. (Inclusive of revolving) and the interest paid by our company on the loan is N796,431,000.00k.
Abayilo claimed that, “the bank sum as at the close of the account under review based on the statement of account as shown in the independent financial report and statement or reconciliation. I know that we are equally important of N548,834,070.82k as the difference between the amounts posted as debit as at 30th January 2010 in contrary to the 90k statement on the date.
It is, however, clear that Access Bank Plc got over N500m payment from LM Ericsson within the first 6months of the tenure of facility they gave Lucratel while they did not use it to liquidate the facility but the bank was taking commission on the loan while having Lucratel’s money as paid in by LM Ericsson.
Learnt that although the banks have some credible people like Gbenga Oyebode, Tunde Folawiyo, Cosmas Maduka, the board also has fugitive and runs away former governor of Delta State James Onanefe Ibori, who is awaiting extradition to London from Dubai to face charges on corruption and money laundering through his proxy Dere Otubu, who is holding forth for him on the board.
While they are inflicting injuries on the banks’ clients by defrauding them of their hard earned money Aig and Herbert are living a life of opulence and living large courtesy of another people wealth, this can be attested to Aig’s mansion which he bought for £25m on off high street Kensington London WH, his alter ego Herbert is alleged to have an housing estate in Florida, United States of America said to worth several millions of dollars.
Benco News’ effort to speak with Mr. Segun Fafore, Head, Corporate Communication of the bank for the bank’s angle proved futile as his mobile number was not reachable as at press time.