Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Investors Call On AGF, Malami Not To Allow $2bn Union Bank Nigeria Plc Shares To Be Re-Sold To An Indian Company

Some investors of Union Bank, Nigeria Plc are calling on the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), to activate a global warning alert against the fraudulent sale of the bank’s US 2 billion dollar shares.
This call was made via a press statement signed by their legal representative, Chief Agabaidu Jideani of BEZ Fredrick LLP. The statement which was signed on the 23rd February, 2020, and made available to TheNigerialawyer (TNL), is in furtherance to an earlier petition sent to the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice in Abuja, on the “Urgent need to stop the announced sale of UK Subsidiary of Union Bank of Nigeria to MBU Capital due to ongoing criminal investigations concerning fraudulent manipulations, unjust enrichment and fraud in the change of ownership of the bank which dispossessed 65,000 Nigerians to transfer majority ownership of Union Bank of Nigeria plc to Mauritius Shell Company”.

The petition which was received on January, 31st, 2020, at the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice in Abuja, shows that the said investors had accused the former CBN Governor, Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, and former Ministers, Udo Udoma, Okey Enelamah and few others of being responsible for the acquisition of the US 2 billion dollars’ worth of shares of the bank.
“Our petition requested the AGF to activate both local and global alert warning to stop the announced re-sell of the shares by the phony owners pending the conclusion of the criminal investigations by the Department of State Security (DSS) and the office of Department of Public Prosecution of the Federation (DPPF). We had also notified the UK regulator, the Financial Conducts Authority, to suspend the planned sale of the Union Bank Uk to MBU Capital. This notice was circulated to regulators in Canada, the USA and Mauritius.
“Our petition raised the alarm that the purported owners of the bank are aware of the ongoing criminal investigations, but are in a hurry to unjustly enrich themselves by offloading the shares before the whole transaction is cancelled. The petition contains allegations that this same UK subsidiary was directly implicated in the fraudulent change of ownership transactions being investigated.
“The petition particularly noted that Mr. Enelamah, former Minister of Trade and Investment was the mastermind of the transaction who allegedly led Africa Capital Alliance to form a Mauritius shell company to deceive Nigerians while pretending to be foreign investors.  Mr. Enelamah was alleged to have organized the registration of the offshore shell company in Mauritius called Union Global Partners Limited for the purpose of disguising the true majority ownership of Union Bank shares concealed in the offshore company.
“We further alleged that the transactions commenced under Mr. Udo Udoma’s supervision as Chairman of Security and Exchange Commission and concluded when he became the Chairman of Union Bank of Nigeria Plc. The circumstances leading to the sale can best be described as official corruption and insider trading. This is a clear case of insider dealing – a crime under the Money Laundering Act, 2011 as amended in 2012 and should not have been permitted by the SEC”, the statement reads.
The investors had alleged that Udoma and the other regulatory officials illicitly granted a renewable five-year waiver to Union Bank of Nigeria to remain listed on the exchange in spite of being owned by a few private equity firms till today, stressing that, this is to ensure that more than 65,000 Nigeria former shareholders whose shares were diluted from 85 per cent to less than 15 per cent of public float to still be listed on Nigerian Stock Exchange.
“It is worthy of note that the Supreme Court of Nigeria on 7th of February 2020, affirmed the right of the shareholders of Union Bank of Nigeria Plc to challenge and set aside the alleged fraudulent sale of the bank.
“Recall that 49% shares of Union Bank of Nigeria plc is now majority owned and controlled by London listed Atlas Mara, the investment company led by Robert Diamond Jr.”
They also alleged that Mr. Diamond is a former Chief Executive Officer of Barclays Bank was sacked for his involvement in manipulating Libor; and that not only is Mr Diamond not a fit and proper person to own a bank according to the rules of Nigeria, he had also been blacklisted by the Bank of England.
TheNigerialawyer (TNL), recalls that by the letter written on the 4th day of February, 2020, and addressed to the Chief Executive Conduct Authority, Rainmaker BV had made a request asking the authority to withhold approval of sale of Union Bank UK Plc, the subsidiary of Union bank of Nigeria PLC to MBU Capital due to the ongoing criminal investigations in Nigeria concerning ownership of the parent.
They had also by their latter notified the authority under the Nigerian law to suspend the sale as same will compromise the ongoing investigations, until such a time as they may receive written proof from ODPPF and office of the Attorney General of Nigeria that the criminal investigations have concluded.

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