Union Bank: Special Investigator rejects requests by Tunde Lemo, others

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Tunde Lemo

The Office of Special Investigator Jim Obazee has insisted that  Mr Tunde Lemo, the Chairman of Titan Trust Bank, TTB, Mr Cornelius Vink and Rahul Savara must appear before it today to prove that their acquisition of Union Bank of Nigeria, UBN, followed due process or risk losing the financial institution to the Federal Government

This followed a letter by the legal firm of the purported buyers of the UBN that they can only honour the investigation of the Special Investigator when they after second week of January 2024 when they will come back to the country.

The Special Investigator had last Tuesday invited Lemo, Vink and Savara, a former Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN Deputy Governor, Vink and Savara to appear before its panel  with some documents to prove that they followed due process and duly paid for the acquisition of majority shares in UBN.

The Special Investigator had in two reports submitted to President Bola Tinubu alleged that former governor of CBN, Godwin Emefiele used his position to  acquire UBN, using proxies as a cover-up.

He also alleged that there was no evidence that TTB and the other purported investors paid for the majority shares of the UBN. The Special Investigator had also alleged that the address of TGI, the Dubai based firm which funded the acquisition of UBN through TTB could not be traced, while there was no evidence of capital importation into the country for the purchase of the financial institution by the purported buyers.

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The Special Investigator said it reached the conclusion following failure of the purported shareholders to appear before its panel with the necessary documents to prove that they genuinely acquired the bank.

Consequently, the Special Investigator had recommended that the Federal Government should take over the bank from the purported owner.    But Lemo had in a widely circulated statement rejected the assertion by the Special Investigator.

The former CBN deputy governor, asked the Special Investigator to give the shareholders seven days to prove their ownership of Titan Trust Bank and Union Bank of Nigeria with necessary documents, failure of which the two entities should be forfeited to the Federal Government.

While lamenting the failure of the TTB team to take advantage of the earlier opportunity to prove their ownership of UBN, the Special Investigator had in a letter on 23 December acceded to the request of Lemo.

Consequently, the Special Investigator invited Lemo and the two other shareholders to appear before it today with all the necessary documents to prove their ownership of the bank.

However, contrary to the promise,  lawyers to the purported shareholders in a letter yesterday, 27 December said Lemo Savara and Vink are away from the country and will not be available to honour the in invitation of the Special Investigator until the second week of January.

The legal firm, G. ELIAS also said it has submitted the documents requested by the Special Investigator to it on 1st September 2023 at the DSS HQ. The legal firm however, said it is willing to resubmit the information tomorrow on behalf of the invitees to the Special Investigator.

But in a swift response,  the Special Investigator in a letter to Union Bank, insisted that Lemo must fulfil his pledge to attend a meeting scheduled for today as well as his proposal that Mr. Cornelius Vink and Rahul Savara be given seven days to prove their purported ownership of Titan Trust Bank and Union Bank of Nigeria or forfeit the shares to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“Accordingly, this excuse given by your good selves through your lawyers is unacceptable and regarded as obstruction of the Special Investigator in the course of his duties,” the Special Investigator said. It also noted that contrary to the claim of the legal firm, neither Lemo, Vink nor Savara ever submitted any of the requested documents to the investigating team.

“In fact, Cornelius Vink and Rahul Savara have never presented themselves to the Special Investigator since 28th August 2023 when they were first invited for interview,” the Special Investigator said in the letter.

It also rejected the proposal of the legal firm to submit the documents on behalf of their shareholders.

“ The Special Investigator also directs that you should be informed that documents submitted through proxies shall not be accepted as Mr. Cornelius Vink, Mr. Rahul Savara and your good self will be required to speak to whatever document(s)/information you present during the meeting.

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“Consequently, I am to further inform you that your invitation to appear before the Special Investigator on 28th December 2023 by 2pm prompt in respect of the matter under investigation and for which you had earlier made statement; stands,” the Special Investigator added while warning that failure to honour the invitation may lead loss of the two banks to the FG.

“Kindly note that the conditions on paragraphs 6 to 8 in our earlier letter to you with reference number CR:3000/TSl/ABJ/VOL. 1/69 dated 24th December 2023 remains effective and shall be triggered if you or Messrs Vink and Savara fail to attend the meeting as scheduled,” the letter indicated.

Source: Pm News

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