The nose-diving profile of ex-Intercontinental Bank MD Erastus Akingbola has taken another hit following a case instituted by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) against the embattled banker, one of his cronies Ray Nduka Okpu and several of their companies.
It was gathered that the corporation is seeking a court order to compel Dr Akingbola, Ray Okpu and several companies they control to pay N2.5 billion being the sum allegedly accruable from unpaid loans and insider abuse carried out to the detriment of Intercontinental Bank Plc while Dr Akingbola presided as its managing director. The other defendants standing trial alongside Akingbola and Okpu are Tropics Finance and Investment Company Limited, Tropics Securities Limited, WAPIC Insurance Plc and Intercontinental Homes Limited, four companies either owned or substantially controlled by the embattled banker. Others are United Securities, Access Bank, First Bank, United Bank for Africa, Fidelity Bank and Guaranty Trust Bank. The rests are Central Securities Clearing System, First Registrar and Investors Services Limited. In a 35-paragraph statement of claim, AMCON submitted that Ray Okpu had on September 1st, 2005 secured a loan facility of N2 billion from Intercontinental Bank (now Access Bank Plc) to finance the purchase of shares of several blue chip companies, including those of Intercontinental Bank itself. The loan agreement stipulated that the shares so purchased and any bonus or dividend yielded by them would stand as security for the loan. The statement filed by Abuja-based Lawyer Ochai Jacob Otokpa further claimed that August 31, 2007, two years into the five-year term of the loan, 10 million units of shares purchased by the loan were sold by Tropics Finance and Investment Company with the active connivance of Dr Erastus Akingbola. The proceeds of the sale totalling N230 million was diverted by Akingbola, Ray Okpu and Tropics Finance into their own pockets in contravention of the loan agreement. AMCON is also claiming that out of about 103 million shares of Intercontinental Bank purchased with part of the loan, 15 million units were, at the behest of Dr Akingbola, ceded to Intercontinental Homes Limited, a company which he controlled. This is despite the fact those shares and the rest purchased with the loan were meant to stand as security for the loan for a period of five years. The corporation is therefore seeking an order to compel the 1st-4th defendants to pay the sum of 2.5 billion, being the outstanding balance of the loan as at October 2017, interest of 19.5% from October 2017 until judgement day and thereafter 10% interest on judgement sum until final liquidation of the debt. It is also seeking an order directing Central Securities Clearing System to transfer the shares purchased with the loan to AMCON as well as the award of 100 million Naira as general and exemplary damages. It is expected that Dr Erastus Akingbola, who was the MD/CEO of Intercontinental Bank Plc before the bank’s license was revoked and its operations combined with Access Bank, will mount a spirited defence before the federal high court. However, as at the time of filing this report, the main plaintiffs in the case were yet to file any defence or counter-claim.