By Oluwaseyi Bangudu
January 1, 2010 04:01AMT
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, on Thursday, December 31, granted a Mareva injunction, freezing local and international assets of Erastus Akingbola, the former Managing Director of Intercontinental Bank PLC, for total offences amounting to the tune of N346,185,841,243.75 and £1,085,515.00.
The information was contained in a communiqué from the Central Bank of Nigeria, made available to NEXT, yesterday.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had filed an application, under sections 6 (D), 7(2), 24(11), 26(1), 28 and 34(1) of the EFCC Act 2004, seeking, among others, the hearing of the Originating Motion within the shortest possible time to prevent Mr. Akingbola from dissipating the assets.
The U.S. legal definitions website, explains that a Mareva injunction is a type of court order “of interlocutory relief designed to freeze the assets of a defendant, in appropriate circumstances, pending determination of a plaintiff’s claim. Mareva injunctions are often used to prevent a defendant from transferring assets out of the Court’s jurisdiction as soon as a claim is served, in order to frustrate enforcement of any ensuing judgment”.
Intercontinental Bank PLC had obtained similar injunction from the High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division, Commercial Court, London, dated December 24, 2009, to freeze Mr. Akingbola’s assets up to the tune of £10,500,00.00.
Erastus Akingbola London prohibition
That prohibition included the following assets, in particular: the £8,540,134.58 and £1,300,000.00 which were transferred to Fuglers Solicitors; any money held in an account of Fuglers Solicitors; the property on 26, Chester Terrace, London, NW1 4NB; the property on 65, Grove End Road, London, NW8 9NH; the property on 8, Connaught Street, London, W2 2AH.
Mr. Erastus Akingbola's travails started on August 14 when the Central Bank of Nigeria sacked him, along with four other bank chiefs, on accounts of what the CBN calls excessively high level of non-performing loans in the five banks.
This was attributed to poor corporate governance practices, lax credit administration processes and the absence or non-adherence to the bank’s credit risk management practices and having acted in a manner detrimental to the interest of their depositors and creditors. Ever since the sack, Mr. Akingbola is alleged to be taking solace in London.
On December 17, 2009, a Lagos High Court dismissed a N200 billion suit instituted against the EFCC by four companies, allegedly owned by Mr. Akingbola. The companies – Tropics Finance and Investment Company Limited; Tropics Properties Limited; Tropics Securities Limited and Tropics Holding Limited – had filed the suit before Morenike Obadina of the high court, alleging a violation of their fundamental rights during an investigation conducted by the commission into the company’s operations. They consequently asked for N50 billion each in damages.
Erastus Akingbola is also facing charges that include conspiracy to grant unsecured credit facilities, conspiracy to manipulate share prices, reckless consideration of credit facilities without adequate security and failure to present monthly statement of account to the Central Bank, among other charges.
The assets on which the order was granted include, but are not limited to: shares held in listed companies in Nigeria, including, but not limited to, Intercontinental Bank Plc and Access Bank Plc, among others; shares held in other companies in Nigeria including, but not limited to, Tropics Securities Limited; Tropics Property Limited; Tropics Holdings Limited; Summit Finance Company Limited; Tropics Finance & Investments Company Limited; Yankuri Nigeria Limited; Regal Investment Nigeria Limited and Bankinson Nigeria Limited.