Economy Politics

FG begins interrogation of 2 ex-ministers over alleged $2bn Atlas Mara’s Union Bank shares fraud

Written by Maritime First

The Federal Government has begun interrogation of those implicated in the alleged fraud that left over 65,000 Nigerian shareholders losing two billion dollars worth of shares.

Those invited for interrogation were former minister of Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udo Udoma and his counterpart in the Ministry of Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah.

Mr. Chukwuemeka Obasi, the legal representative of the whistle-blower disclosed this to newsmen on Wednesday in Abuja.

Obasi said that the General Managing Director of Union Bank Nig Plc, Mr. Emeka Emuwa was also questioned.

According to him, the various representatives of all private and public institutions linked with the fraud were also invited and quizzed.

Obasi said the establishments mentioned in the petition included the Chapel Hill, National Security Exchange (NSE), Security Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The interrogation hinged on a petition reporting the alleged fraud submitted to the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, dated April 3, 2019.

The petition is titled “Official corruption, misuse of FGN USD two billion, fraud and unjust enrichment of persons who dispossessed more than 65,000 Nigerians and conferred ownership of the Bank on few Nigerians and their foreign accomplices’’.

The petition did finger former Central Bank Governor, the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi II, under whose watch the alleged fraud was perpetuated.

Also accused of alleged complexities in the transactions were the two former ministers.

Enelamah was particularly fingered as the mastermind of the transaction by allegedly leading Africa Capital Alliance to form the Mauritius shell company to house Nigerians pretending to be foreign investors.

The transactions allegedly dispossessed Nigerian shareholders and investors in order to transfer ownership of the bank to a few persons including insiders, chieftains of competitor banks and others who would not pass CBN’s “fit and proper’’ test for bank ownership.

The petition claimed that Enelamah allegedly organised the registration of the offshore shell company in Mauritius called Union Global Partners Limited for the purpose of disguising the true majority ownership of Union Bank shares concealed in the offshore company.

The petition also alleged that the transactions commenced under Udoma’s supervision as Chairman of Security and Exchange Commission and sealed up when he became the Chairman of Union Bank of Nigeria Plc.

“The circumstances can best be described as official corruption and insider trading’’, the petition alleged.

The petition further alleged that Udoma and other officials illicitly granted a renewable five year waiver to Union Bank of Nigeria to remain listed on the exchange in spite of being owned by a few private equity firms till today.

According to the petition, the alleged unlawful action is to ensure the more than 65,000 Nigeria former shareholders whose shares were diluted from 85 per cent to less than 15 per cent of public float to still be listed on Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

“It is to be recalled that 49% shares of Union Bank of Nigeria plc is now majority owned and controlled by London listed Atlas Mara, the investment company led by Robert Diamond Jr.

“Mr Diamond is a former Chief Executive Officer of Barclays Bank who was sacked for his involvement in manipulating Libor.

“Not only is Mr. Diamond not a fit and proper person to own a bank according to the rules of Nigeria, he had also been blacklisted by the Bank of England as a result of the Libor manipulation.

“One wonders how the former CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi authorised the Union Bank change of ownership transaction and bridged it with USD two billion national patrimony,  in spite of glaring evidence of fraud and the nature of the ultimate foreign owner who was already known and waiting in the wings.

“There is evidence that Atlas Mara has visions of owning 100% of Union Bank of Nigeria plc which they can only achieve by buying shares warehoused by the few privileged Nigerians that acquired the bank in apparently unwholesome circumstances.

“Those few privileged Nigerians are now cashing in on their loot in transactions with Atlas Mara, at the expense of dispossessed Nigerians,’’ the petition said.

The alleged fraud has international dimensions reaching United Kingdom, Canada, USA, Netherlands and Mauritius.

But official record has it that Atlas Mara controls 49 per cent control share of the bank which is in turn controlled by Fairfax Africa based in Canada and United States.

According to the petition, Mauritius equally has a significant control right, because the offshore   shell company called Union Global Partners Limited (UGPL) is another significant owner that has sold and continues to offload its shares to Atlas Mara.

Nigerians who were former shareholders of Union Bank of Nigeria eagerly await the outcome of this investigation.

Already, UGPL acquired 65 per cent of the bank in the odious transaction that dispossessed Nigerians.

The Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) was also compelled to divest its 20 per cent shares to Atlas Mara which the UGPL consortium was unable to pay for.

 

 

 

 

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Maritime First