Obinna Amaobi, Abuja
Palpable fear has gripped major debtors of banks and other financial institutions as the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) may have initiated action to recover the debts.
This is sequel to the invitation extended to EFCC by The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), over the difficulty being experienced by the latter in an attempt to recover the debts
MeshackDaily gathered that three-quarters of the debtors like Senator Ifeanyi Ubah, Wale Babalakin, Jimoh Ibrahim and others, are unwilling to pay the debts and have erected various hurdles for AMCON, prompting it to extend invitation to EFCC.
Investigations by our correspondent revealed that most of the collaterals used to obtain the loans were deliberately over-valued, making it difficult for AMCON to recover the money. For example, property worth N300million would be valued as N1.5billion during the documentation for the loan.
Also, most of the debtors are aware that the life span of AMCON will expire in 2023; therefore they are doing everything to frustrate AMCON in this regard.
A source close to AMCON informed that the corporation has raised a committee to work closely with EFCC operatives to realise the objectives.
Part of the strategy of ‘the big boys’ is using the funds obtained from the banks in the name of loans to compromise the judiciary.
Since they have the financial wherewithal, they are able to employ senior advocates that would file all manners of applications to stall suits filed against them by AMCON.
While on a routine conclusion of the loans, AMCON discovered that there were compromises as most of the loans’ processes did not follow due process.
It would be recalled that recently, EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu vowed to assist AMCON to recover trillions of Naira owed it by businessmen, women and companies.
“We are ready to work with you, we will render assistance in terms of enforcement, in order to recover these loans, because they are affecting the economy of the country from flourishing,” he said.
He stated this when AMCON Chairman, Muiz Banire and its Managing Director, Ahmed Kuru paid him a courtesy call.
He expressed the resolve of the anti-graft agency in ensuring the recovery of the monies even as he called for collaboration and a re-evaluation of the modus operandi of the Corporation.
“In order to recover these loans, there is need for inter-agency collaboration, going beyond the EFCC to the police, the court, Central Bank of Nigeria, NDIC, because there is need for AMCON to re-strategize and block loopholes,” he said.
While commending the readiness of the Commission to assist the Corporation, he acknowledged the “giant strides the EFCC has accomplished in the recent past, not just in the number of convictions, but even from the exposure and calmness in taming the extravagant lifestyle of people stealing” public funds.
He also used the opportunity to highlight the efforts of AMCON in debt recovery, dating back to its creating to “absorb most of the loans during the time that the banks were collapsing, in order to strengthen the banks”.
The present leadership of AMCON inherited 14,000 cases and has resolved about 7,000 cases
According to Banire, the loans were about N3.7 trillion, adding that during that time, the debtors were in excess of 12,000 people and through the efforts of AMCON, the figure was reduced to around 7,000.
He however, noted with dismay that though the number reduced overtime, “there are a few owing with impunity and taking just about 20 of them, we will be talking about people owing close to N2trillion”.
He thus called for more collaboration with the EFCC in the areas of due diligence during the processing and granting of loans.
He said: “We believe that we must work harmoniously with the EFCC, if we want to recover these funds particularly in areas of granting of the loan where a lot of sharp practices are done in areas of compliance or over-inflation of the value of the assets used as security.
“Our conviction is that the EFCC is where the solution lies, and this is where we will be able to recover the loans with lesser expenses in prosecuting cases.”
On his part, Kuru appreciated the EFCC’s support, noting that the AMCON desk domiciled in the EFCC has been helpful in the recovering of billions of naira. “EFCC is key to the results that we have so far achieved,” he said.
Spokesman of AMCON did not answer calls places to him to comment on the progressing the partnership with EFCC on the debt recovery efforts.
An official who didn’t want his name mentioned however told MeshackDaily.com that the work was in “good progress” expressing hope that the public will soon be informed of the outcome