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Business News of Friday, 17 March 2023


Police begins search for Nigerian lady, four Indians for Stealing Bank’s N1.6bn customer funds

The photo used to illustrate the stoty The photo used to illustrate the stoty

A court case has been filed by the Federal Criminal Investigation Department (FCID) of the Nigerian Police Force in Alagbon, Ikoyi, Lagos against Mrs. Obiageli Inuwa and four Indian nationals: Nigli Kevin, Sunil Kumar Hari Prasad, Voodi Sumaprakas, and Dhanuka Sunil Kumar.

The case charges before the Federal High Court includes three counts of conspiracy and theft of N1,626,139,795.12 belonging to the Union Bank of Nigeria Plc.

PM news reports that the charges stem from a petition written by the law firm of Anoka & Associates on behalf of Union Bank of Nigeria Plc to the Inspector General of Police.

The petition detailed a fraud of N1,626,139,795.12 allegedly committed by Bharat Ventures Limited and Triton Aqua Limited, sister companies registered in Nigeria for importing frozen fish.

In December 2017, Bharat Ventures Limited's directors applied and were granted an overdraft credit facility of N1 billion by Union Bank.

The repayment of the credit facility was to come from the sales or proceeds generated from the companies operations.

The sister companies also applied for and obtained an overdraft facility of N100 million to purchase feed and fingerlings for local fish production.

The directors of Bharat Ventures Limited and Triton Aqua Africa Limited executed an All Asset Debenture over the companies' assets located at their operation sites in Kaduna, Oyo, Port Harcourt, and Lagos as security for the credit facilities.

During the tenure of the credit facilities granted to the companies, the directors approached Union Bank and requested for further credit facilities by way of extension of the existing credit facilities.

In response to this request, the bank granted an additional sum of N600 million to Triton Aqua Limited and an additional sum of N1,081,290,000.00 to Bharat Ventures Limited.

As of 29th August 2019, Bharat Ventures Limited owed the bank N1,149,154,719.48, and Triton Aqua Africa Limited owed the bank N476,985,075.64. This push the total indebtedness of the companies to the bank to N1,626,139,795.12.

The suspects flee to India

As part of measures to ensure that the proceeds of the fish, feeds, and fingerlings were used to repay the credit facilities, the bank agreed that a stock monitoring agent should be assigned to the companies' business premises.

Storing Limited was appointed to monitor the sales at the company's business premises at 49 Apapa/Oshodi Expressway, Ijesha-Tedo, Lagos.

However, on 20th August 2019, the bank discovered that all the fishes and fish products stocked in the company's business premises in Lagos had been diverted away from the companies' business premises at Apapa.

The same situation occurred in other warehouses in Port Harcourt, Ibadan, and Kaduna. Upon investigation, it was discovered that the companies' management had illegally, fraudulently, and criminally removed all their products from the sites and eloped to India.

The directors of the companies, Mr. Varghese Mathew, Mr. Kelvin Nigli, Mr. Yashpal Jain, Mr. Vijay Mastakar, and Mrs. Obiageli Inuwa, had absconded from Nigeria and eloped to India with the depositors' fund. The bank tried to reach the companies' directors, but all proved abortive.

It was there after the bank was convinced that the actions of the directors were premeditated and a grand deception from the beginning, calculated to defraud the bank of its shareholders' funds.

The bank believes that the attitude of the companies' directors was a well-calculated plan to rip off the bank's depositors and shareholders' funds.