Law News
Senate panel faults AMCON’s sale of Ibru’s N570bn assets

The Senate Committee on Drugs, Narcotics, Financial Crimes and Anti-Corruption on Monday, described as absurd, the process employed by the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria to dispose off the assets of the former Managing Director of Oceanic Bank Plc, Mrs. Cecilia Ibru.

A Nigerian, whose identity was not revealed, had petitioned the Senate Committee, alleging that AMCON’s sale of  Ibru’s asset worth N569bn, which she forfeited to the Federal Government, within and outside the country, was shrouded in secrecy.

Chairman of the committee, Senator Victor Lar, explained that Ibru, as the MD/CEO of Oceanic Bank (Now Eco Bank), during the course of her prosecution, pleaded guilty, and entered into a plea bargain with the Federal Government to hand over all assets she acquired with depositors funds.

Lar added that the petitioner alleged that Ibru still controlled most of the assets and shares and had even converted the United Kingdom branch of Oceanic Bank to her personal use and changed it to Premiere United Capital without notifying shareholders.

The petition read in part, “It is interesting to note that the handling of the plea bargain was fraught with anomalies and the handing over of assets and shares of Cecilia Ibru to AMCON and transfer to shareholders in Ecobank never took place.

“Due to poor administration of the recovery and implementation of the plea bargain: Cecilia Ibru still controls most of the assets and shares recovered under the plea bargain. Mrs Ibru converted Oceanic Bank UK with assets and cash of over £15m to her personal use.

“She changed the name of Oceanic Bank UK to Premier European capital, transferring all Oceanic Bank assets to the new company without the knowledge of the previous shareholders and directors from Oceanic Bank.

“She opened a trust fund and converted property recovered to Cecilia Ibru Trust Fund: United States (11); Nigeria (51); Dubai (4); South Africa (1); 29 portfolios in different companies; and two aircraft worth over $100m, on the fleet of Aero Contractors.”

A legal officer with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission,  Mr. Ibrahim Audu, told the panel that the anti-graft agency was not involved  in the plea bargain because it was strictly between her and the office of the Attorney – General of the Federation.

Audu said, “Just as the petitioner rightly highlighted in his petition, investigation in the case of Ibru was conclusively done. There was a plea bargain which was entered between the government and Ibru.

“There is a court order in respect of that plea bargain. By the court order AMCON was directed to manage all the properties that were confiscated. By that order, all the properties recovered from Ibru were transferred to AMCON for management. Nothing is with EFCC.

“All the properties recovered from Ibru have been handed over to AMCON, in accordance with the court order, for management.”

An Executive Director with Ecobank Plc, Mr. Ibrahim Jafiya, told the panel that his management took over the control of Oceanic about two years after AMCON had effectively took over its assets and liabilities.

Jafiya therefore said the management of the Ecobank was not involved in the execution of the plea bargain.

The Acting Executive Commissioner in charge of operations at the Security and Exchange Commission, Mr. Abatcha Bulama,  also denied knowledge of the  sale of Ibru’s shares on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange following the plea bargain.

The Deputy Governor in charge of Financial Sector Systems Sustainability, at the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Okwu Nnanna, said the apex bank ended its exercise after handling over the failed bank to AMCON.

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