Saraki’s bank, SGBN, to return as Heritage Bank

The bank’s license was earlier revoked by the Central Bank.

While the Saraki’s mourn the death of their patriarch, Olusola Saraki, authorities say a bank, believed to be largely owned by them, Societe Generale Bank of Nigeria, SGBN, whose operational license was revoked by the Central Bank of Nigeria, will soon commence banking operations.

The bank, whose license was revoked more than six years ago by the Central Bank, then under the leadership of Chukwuma Soludo, will soon return to the fold of the country’s commercial banks.

The bank’s operational license was revoked by the Central Bank on January 2006 during the re-capitalisation policy in the banking sector.

However, following the order of the Federal High Court, Abuja, the apex bank was compelled to restore the operational permit after it declared that the bank met the minimum financial requirements to return to business.

To return as Heritage bank

Reports suggest that the bank has already been granted clearance by the Central Bank to return as a regional bank under a new name called Heritage Bank Limited.

The Director  of Insurance and Surveillance Department, Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation, NDIC, Zachaeus Anate, said on Thursday in Dutse, Jigawa State that the relevant monetary authorities are equally revisiting the issues that underlined the revocation of Savannah Bank’s license with a view to restoring it based on its owners’ desire to re-capitalise the bank.

The director said, at the 2012 Workshop for Business Editors and Financial Correspondents, that the Central Bank would soon undergo a second round of depositors’ verification exercise with a view to determining the final modalities that would guide the commencement of its business operations.

He assured of the regulatory agency’s commitment to ensure that  all depositors have access to their funds.

“The bank has been issued a regional banking license, but what is important is that CBN will soon conduct a second round of depositors’ verification exercise on the bank to authenticate the list of its customers,” Mr. Anate said.

He said the new Managing Director of the bank, who was in attendance during the last Bankers’ Committee meeting last Tuesday, had indicated that through the second depositors’ verification exercise, all depositors’ funds would be properly accounted for, while guaranteeing they would have access to their deposits.

“So, there are a lot of things NDIC is doing, in terms of the supervision and resolution that we just don’t come out to talk about in the public. But I want to assure you that no depositor in any of those banks would lose their money” he said.

Since the suspension of the bank’s license, hundreds of depositors complained of not having access to their money. Also, the banks officials led by Bukola Saraki, a serving senator, were alleged to have mismanaged the bank’s funds.

Mr. Saraki is still being investigated by anti-corruption agencies for his role in the financial crisis that rocked the bank.
Like Societe, like Savannah

On Savannah Bank, the NDIC chief said preparations are going on to get the bank running again, considering the enormous effort by its owners to ensure that they return to business.

The Corporation’s Director of Banking Examinations Department, Adebanjo Adeleke, said that for many of the distressed banks, the corporation had paid many depositors on their insured deposits, while pending court cases have made payments to others impossible.

“Now, the question we need to ask is: how did we get to where we are now? You will recall that the CBN took certain actions by withdrawing the licences of the banks because of certain issues.

“And as a law abiding institution that is why NDIC could not quickly verify insured deposits in those banks.

“Very soon, depositors with these banks will be able to access their money. I can assure you that no depositor with these banks will lose their funds,” Mr. Adeleke said.

He, however, disclosed that three other banks – Peak Merchant Bank, Fortune Bank and Triumph Bank- whose licences were also revoked by the apex bank, are still in court, though their depositors are being paid by NDIC, who has been granted the status of provisional liquidator.

“The  court granted the banks liquidator status and that is why NDIC is paying the depositors. The NDIC is however not paying with the assets of the bank, but using the premium contributed by other banks into the deposit insurance fund to do that,” he said.


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