EXCLUSIVE: How Ex-Central Bank Gov. Emefiele, AMCON Boss, Kuru Connived To Sell Keystone, Polaris, Union Banks To Cronies —Sources


The embattled former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele and Chief Executive Officer of Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), Mr Ahmed Kuru conspired in gross abuse of office to acquire some banks, using public funds and the instrumentality of their offices, SaharaReporters has learnt.


Sources revealed that the duo forcefully and fraudulently ensured the acquisition of Polaris, Keystone and Union Banks. 


SaharaReporters was told that the CBN’s intervention in Union Bank on August 14, 2009, saw the removal of the executive management of the bank, but an investigation revealed that it was actually a bank grab scheme by Emefiele and his allies. 


According to the investigation, all the reasons given including lack of corporate governance, non-performing loans, and bad liquidity ratio among others which were adduced by the CBN for the take-over were just a ruse.


It revealed that the shareholders’ fund was favourable to the tune of N53,145billion for the financial year ended March 2009. 


Then the CBN led by Emefiele appointed a management team led by Funke Osibodu to run Union Bank. But according to informed Union Bank sources, the management manipulated the books and plummeted the shareholders’ funds to N135,894 billion negative as a result of questionable provisions in the year ended December 2010 as a ground plan to acquire the bank.


To further erode the value of the bank and give some favoured investors an unfair advantage, the source said the shareholders’ fund maintained a negative position to the tune of N135,894 billion for the year ended December 2010.


“If the various funds received from AMCON were applied as and when due, and the necessary safeguard made against questionable provisions, the shareholders’ fund would have been positive before the entry of the core investors into the bank,” a source argued.


The source, a senior executive of the bank said, “We are curious to know how an investor who brought in N48 billion investments in 2012 was able to control N238 billion, that is, 65% of the shareholders’ fund in less than a year.”  


The inside source revealed that the employees of the bank through their central labour organisation, Nigeria Labour Congress, drew the attention of the former Central Bank of Nigeria governor to some unethical practices of the leadership of the bank. 


This includes “demarketing, stripping of assets, manipulation of the books of the bank, recruitment of management staff as cronies, poor labour relations, arbitrary increase in the compensation package of directors among others,” but regrettably, the CBN led by Emefiele blocked all forms of investigation.


Mrs Osibodu created questionable earnings and emoluments for directors including her own shrouded in secrecy, it was also learnt. 


According to an inside source, the directors embarked on many frivolous trips to claim questionable estacode. “Osibodu on her part withdrew GDP 15,000 monthly by debiting the bank’s current account NO: 010902 GBP-UBNNET-00 in Union Bank UK PLC for which settlement Union Bank Central operations department provided the Naira to accommodate same.


“The sum under reference was in addition to estacode and medical allowances collected while on foreign trips. The rape on the bank includes unprecedented retirements payouts to directors and deliberate assets stripping /reduction in the value of then Union Bank’s multi-billion naira worth fixed assets.”


According to informed sources, the CBN appointed management led by Osibodu, adopted a pattern of book-keeping skewed towards giving the impression of a totally rundown bank and ensuring its liquidation and/or sale. To erode the capital of the bank, landed properties in choice areas were sold below market values to some directors and cronies. 


“The reduction in the value of the bank’s fixed assets to N62 billion in the accounts as of 30th June 2010, as against N79, 522 billion reported in that of 31 December 2009 is a clear indication of a deliberate attempt towards eroding shareholders’ fund,” the sources identified.


A management staff member with knowledge of the manipulations hinted that the humongous provisions are unjustified as only N100 milllion remained outstanding as unreconciled items and only N7.1 billion was moved to pension fund account (PFA) as gratuity for deserving staff, while an unjustifiable higher provisions were made by the the management between 2009 and 2012 with a view to eroding shareholders’ fund. 


“With the CBN intervention, the appointed managers created new provision centres to accommodate manipulated provisions that will erode the shareholders’ funds,” one of the sources said. 


SaharaReporters’ investigation further revealed that in another capital erosion scheme recorded by the CBN appointed management, a Union Bank staff member claimed that on the 8th of April 2013, the management of the bank transferred the sum of U$500 million to FBN through Union Bank Plc, London. 


According to sources, the argument of the management that there was no need for the fund to remain in the bank is unfounded as its offshore credit line of about US$600 million was withdrawn following CBN’s intervention. 


“The argument by the Osibodu management that the fund was transferred at the instance of NNPC is simplistic asset stripping and value erosion to pave the way for the bank to be sold for pittance according to Union Bank.


“While the source of US$500 million is known, its destination/utilization in FBN is not known and must be investigated,” one of the sources said. 


Financial intelligence investigation, however, revealed that AMCON led by Ahmed Kuru in a scheme with the embattled former CBN Governor Emefiele to erode shareholders’ value and justify the takeover of Union Bank through a retroactive policy, forcefully purchased loans which were ordinarily performing and in some cases off balance sheet from which Union Bank earned forex income. This included the Arik Air ECA/HSBC aircraft purchase facility and many more which were classified as non-performing loans (Eligible Bank Assets) with gross value of N400 billion from Union Bank on December 31, 2010, and April 6, 2011. 


Moreover, the claims of AMCON’s capital injection of NGN239bn for the purchase of toxic assets is a loose strategy. According to a Union Bank insider, “these were performing bank facilities which were fraudulently rearranged to present the customers as defaulters and the management at the time as in competent.”


However, they (CBN/AMCON) brought in their own management to erode shareholders’ capitals and roundtrip funds to justify their actions, the investigation revealed.


It was therefore not surprising, but a clear delivery of an original marshal plan of the CBN/AMCON gladiators of Emefiele and Kuru when Titan Bank Limited claimed it had acquired Union Bank. The acquisition according to Titan Bank was conducted in the most professional, open, and transparent bidding process, the an insider revealed. 


“The acquisition was funded by a combination of debt amounting $300 million and an additional equity injection of about $190 million, which was contributed by TTB’s two major shareholders – Magna International DMCC and Luxis International DMCC fell on its face when the Titan Bank Chairman with Mr Vinka, MD Mr Savara failed to show up and explain the transaction to the special Investigators on CBN,” a source said. 


However, the promoters of the Union Bank acquisition including the former Deputy Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Tunde Lemo have failed equally to appear before the Presidential Investigator to answer pertinent questions about the acquisition, one of the insider sources said.


He noted that while they claimed the approximate $500 million used to pay for the transaction was transparent, the Funke Osibodu-led CBN intervention management was yet to explain the whereabouts of $500 million NNPC deposit with Union Bank that was moved out without any explanations. 


According to the bank insider, “all you need to do is connect the dots, and you will see the collusion, the conspiracy, it speaks volume to what went down in Union Bank”.


Findings from records revealed that on Friday, August 5, 2011, Keystone Bank Limited was issued a commercial banking license by the Central Bank of Nigeria. On the same day, CBN revoked the banking license of Bank PHB. Keystone Bank assumed the assets and some liabilities of the now “defunct” Bank PHB. 


On 22 March 2017, Asset Management Company of Nigeria announced that Keystone Bank had been sold to investors for N25 billion ($81.5 million). It was sold to Sigma Golf-Riverbank consortium.


One of the legacy shareholders of Bank PHB said, “The forceful takeover of Bank PHB and fraudulent conversion to Keystone Bank is a disservice to the investing community in Nigeria, assault on ordinary Nigerians who have invested their meagre earnings and savings in the equity market. They (CBN&AMCON) have dispossessed us of our investments as the original owners/shareholders of Bank PHB, the very people that provided the seed on which the Bank made a name through a back-door arrangement by Mr Ahmed Lawan Kuru who was an Executive Director of Bank PHB through the instrumentation of AMCON where he superintended on a massive business grab and economic sabotage.”


A former staff member said that it was an organised arranged takeover scheme set up fot Bank PHB, adding that Kuru used two companies created by AMCON through the instrumentality of AMCON staff and not any established government vehicle to assume the ownership of Bank PHB in transit in the name of a bridge bank “Keystone Bank”. 


“This is despite Kuru’s claim that the bank was nationalised. The two companies are Resolution & Restructuring Limited and Eligible Securities Limited. The two companies under absolute Ahmed Kuru’s ruthless control immediately assumed ownership of Bank PHB (as Keystone Bank) without any recourse to or consideration for the poor shareholders and other investors in BankPHB,” the source said. 


‘”After fulfilling all righteousness of takeover of Bank PHB under the cover-up of nationalisation, former bank staff members said Kuru/Emefiele supplanted Mr Dennis Asega Alega, Head of Risk in Bank PHB (a Ugandan national and CEO of DMA Capital). He was Kuru’s ally when Ahmed Kuru’s was the Executive Director of Bank PHB in a scheme of arrangements that created the River Bank Sigma Golf Consortium with Alhaji Umaru Modibbo (who eventually emerged Chairman of Keystone Bank after the acquisition transaction).”


An investigation into the bonds and claims of injection of funds into companies taken over by CBN in the case of banks and companies by AMCON also exposed that the arrangement is a scheme for corruption by those appointed by the CBN to manage bridge banks and those appointed by AMCON to manage companies in receivership. 


All companies in AMCON receiverships have produced multimillionaire AMCON staff members/receiver managers and billionaire bank directors of bridge banks while the concerned companies ended up derelict and on the threshold of insolvency preparatory to the “cheap’ transfer for pittance to the cronies of the duo of Godwin Emefiele and Ahmed Kuru, sources said. 


However, efforts to reach Kuru on his mobile line failed. He also did not reply to the text message sent to him. 


When SaharaReporters reached out to Osibodu to get her reaction, she threatened to sue the company if the report is published. 





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