Company charged with laundering billions of Naira sues bank for not releasing its money

Heritage Bank
Heritage Bank

A security company alleged to have diverted huge sums from the office of the former National Security Adviser, NSA, Sambo Dasuki, has asked an Abuja high court to wind up and revoke the operational licence of Heritage Bank.

The company, Geonel Integrated Services Limited, in a petition filed against the bank, said Heritage Bank should be wound up over an alleged state of financial insolvency.

In November 2016, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, arraigned five companies accused of allegedly diverting huge sums from the office of the former NSA. The companies are Geonel Integrated Services Limited, Unity Continental Nigeria Limited, Helpline Organization, Vibrant Resource Limited and Sologic Integrated Services Limited.

They were arraigned alongside Nicholas Ashinze, a former special assistant to the embattled former NSA; an Austrian, Wolfgang Reinl; Edidiong Idiong and Sagir D. Mohammed before Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court, Abuja on a 13-count charge of corruption and money laundering to the tune of N36.8 billion.

Geonel Integrated Services Limited is owned by Mr. Reinl, an Austrian security expert.

But the company in its petition, Wednesday, alleged that Heritage Bank has been showing signs of distress and insolvency in the recent times and may cause colossal economic damages to Nigerians unless it is wound up on court order.

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The court and CBN were asked to invoke the provisions of section 408, 409 and 410 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act 1990 to liquidate the bank because of its alleged inability to meet up with demands of its customers due to its alleged distressed status.

In the petition filed by the security outfit, it claimed that it maintains four separate accounts with Nos. 1300083902, 6200100931,6000105125 and 3200121515 as well as a fixed deposit account at the Abuja branch of the bank.

The company claimed it has N1,811,555,258 and another $85,859 in the accounts, stressing that the huge sums have been trapped in the bank due to its inability to meet up with its expected obligations.

According to the petitioner’s lawyer, Mazi Osigwe, the company alleged that it had made several applications through cheques to transact withdrawal business but that the bank had failed and neglected to honour the cheques.

The petitioner alleged that in January 2016, a judge of the court, Binta Nyako, granted the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) an order to freeze the accounts for a period of six months to carry out some investigations.

It claimed that the order granted EFCC expired on July 24, 2016 and that the same Justice Nyako confirmed expiration of the order in her ruling delivered on November 16, 2016.

The petitioner claimed that the bank has been actively instigating the EFCC to secure a fresh order to stop it from accessing or operating the accounts so as to cover up its distressed status.

The petitioner was silent on its existing corruption charges before the court but said it provided several newspaper reports to prove that Heritage Bank is distressed.

It, however, claimed that in spite of the public denial of the distress, the bank has been unable to honour several financial obligations to customers rushing to withdraw their money to escape unpleasant economic effects.

The company, therefore, urged the court to declare the bank distressed, insolvent and to hold that the bank is indebted to it to the tune of N1.8 billion and another $85,859.

The petitioner also applied for an order of the court to wind up the bank and another order compelling the CBN to withdraw or revoke the banking licence of the bank.

When PREMIUM TIMES contacted Heritage Bank’s corporate communications unit, the bank said that the claims were untrue and malicious.

Gbolahan Oyeyinka, an official of the bank said, “our attention has been drawn to a malicious and untrue report following a petition filed at the Federal High Court by Geonel Integrated Services Limited on the bank’s financial and liquidity condition.

“We want to categorically state that the allegation is not true as the Geonel Integrated Services Limited’s account is currently being investigated for financial crimes by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC).”

Mr. Oyeyinka, however, noted that the bank was advised formally to freeze the account by the federal agency through court injunction pending when the investigation will be concluded.

“The investigation is still ongoing and the bank is under obligation to respect a valid order of court,”he told our correspondent.

“We want to state categorically that Heritage Bank is not distressed as being malevolently reported, the bank is capable to honour its obligations to customers and numerous stakeholders alike.”

EFCC officials declined comment saying the matter was already in court.

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