Crack detectives from the Economic and Financial Commission (EFCC) spent time in 2022 investigating the purchase of Union Bank by Titan Bank, BusinessDay can now disclose. The report of that investigation was never made public.
Early Saturday, Nigerian newspapers laced their front pages with stories of how Jim Obazee, the special investigator of Central Bank of Nigeria, concluded that the acquisition was done by former governor of the bank Godwin Emefiele using proxies and he is asking the government to seize the banks.
In his report, Obazee said two key shareholders of Titan Bank and Union Bank – Magna and Luxis – could not be located in the Dubai office that they claim.
Hours after the special investigator’s report were published by the press, groups associated with the two banks are now attempting to set the record straight.
One who said he was part of the acquisition process said global financial advisors and legal advisers were hired to support the acquisition process.
According to another source, Magna and Luxis are the ultimate beneficial owners of TTB, (Titan Bank) the companies are owned by Shavara and Cornelius Vinks. These are owners of TGI group in Nigeria, with multi billion dollars businesses across different countries of the world including Nigeria. Same people that sold the Chivita arm of their business to Coca cola for about $1b, around 2017 and 2018.
He said UBN shares (about 92% owned by a foreign investors – Atlas Mara) have been on offer for sales for almost four years. Few banks bidded like TTB shareholders did. TTB won the bid because it was willing to buy at a price slightly above market price of N5:00 per share then (with the UK subsidiary hived out).
The parties claim the transaction was funded with a $300m loan from Afrexim and the shareholders raised about $200m contribution. The process of obtaining the loan in question was a very rigorous one and related documents for all these were availed to Jim Obazee when requested.
Notes seen by our reporter claim that the core investors in Titan Bank are two Dubai registered companies called Luxis DMCC and Magna DMCC. Both entities belong to Vink Corporation, TGI’s Dubai operating company. Vink Corporation is TGI’s main international trading company and has over five subsidiaries that operate in the UAE and Asia. The owners of Vink Corporation are Mr Cornelius Vink and Mr Rahul Savara.
It was claimed that already eleven folders of information were handed over to the investigator on 1st September 2023 with a cover letter. The documents were acknowledged by the special investigator’s office.
In relation to Vink Corporation, they countered the allegation that it has had an office in Dubai for over 10 years and with title deeds for the property.
It is claimed that the confusion here is the difference between a “registered address” and a “statutory seat” address. The “registered” address is where you incorporate the company. In this case, the entities were incorporated in a free zone. The “statutory” address is where you operate the business from. In this case, the Vink Corporation office. Unfortunately, the embassy team went to the “registered” location as opposed to the “statutory” location.
The parties said they shared all this information with the investigator and also attached the incorporation documents for Magna showing the difference between a registered address and a statutory address.
On the reference to Titan shareholders as being a “secret” shareholder that gave a loan to Vink Corporation for the UBN transaction, insiders in Titan Bank insist that the ultimate shareholders as Mr Cornelius Vink and Mr Rahul Savara