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Titan Bank Chair, two others face shares forfeiture on Obazee’s summons

Cornelius Vink TGI Group boss

Jim Obazee, the Central Bank’s special investigator, has again summoned Babatunde Lemo, Titan Trust Bank (TTB) Chairman, along with Cornelius Vink and Rahul Savara,top shareholders of Union Bank Nigeria Plc, over the acquisition of the Bank by TTB.

The summons warns of potential shares forfeiture if they fail to honor the invitation and provide necessary documents, raising questions about their purported shareholding in both Titan Trust and Union Bank.

The invitation that was contained in a December 24 letter referenced CR:3000/TSI/ABJ/Vol.1/69 and signed by the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Eloho Okpoziakpo, the Head of Operations, Office of the Special Investigator. The trio are expected to meet with the special investigators by 2pm, December 28 at the Department of Force Intelligence in Abuja without fail.

The letter entitled, “Re: CBN Investigation Activities, Invitation For A Follow Up Meeting With The Special Investigator”, is also the second to Vink, the chairman of TGI, and to Savara, the two shareholders who have refused to honour the invitation to the team since 28th August 2023.

Lemo, Vink, and Savara had previously been invited but failed to honor the summons, citing various reasons, including Vink’s medical condition. The latest invitation aims to ensure a fair hearing and gather necessary documentation related to the transactions.

“Kindly note that if Messrs Cornelius Vink and Rahul Savara refused to attend this meeting and provide/defend the requested documents/information, it will be construed that they have decided to forfeit their purported shareholdings in TTB and Union Bank of Nigeria: irrespective of which vehicle that they are using to own the purported shares”, the letter read.

The Special Investigator’s team issued the fresh invitation for Lemo to update his statement, following publications in some newspapers considered offensive to the federal government. Lemo had okayed this publication in some newspapers that contradicted his confessional statement of August 2023 connected with the transactions under caution at the Department of State Service (DSS) in August 2023.

“In the said newspapers, you referred to both Cornelius Vink and Rahul Savara as “prominent global entrepreneurs and having thriving businesses in Nigeria. In your email to email to the Special Investigator, as well as your earlier discussion with the Special Investigator, both on December 24th, you suggested that Cornelius Vink and Rahul Savara be invited to provide clarification on their share ownership and be given seven days to make such clarification, failure of which they will forfeit their purported shareholdings to the federal government” the letter read.

“We are surprised at your request about these two shareholders. They were given this opportunity via a letter dated 28th August 2023. Instead of honouring the invitation and providing the requested documents, we received a letter from the company secretary of Union Bank, Somuyiwa Sonubi, dated 1st September, informing the Special Investigator that Mr. Cornelius Vink was out of the country on medical grounds and that both Messrs. Vink and Savara will be available for the meeting as soon as they are in Nigeria which will be soon.

“Up until this offensive defence that you put in the public domain, the Special Investigator has neither heard from them nor received the requested documents”, Okpoziakpo stated, as he invited Lemo to re-appear with the two shareholders with all those documents that were hitherto requested,” it read.

The meeting with the team of investigators is aimed at scrutinizing transactions during Lemo’s tenure at the bank, with potential links to former CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele.

The focus is on extracting evidence regarding the source of the $500 million used in the acquisition of Union Bank, with suspicions pointing towards sacked CBN governor.

Obazee, had in his report suggested completion of the investigation into the acquisition of Union Bank and Keystone Bank, accusing Emefiele of using proxies for Titan Trust Bank without evidence of payment. The report indicates the possibility of recovering both banks for the federal government.

The trio are on December 28 expected to provide to the team, the documentation that led to the licensing of Titan Trust Bank and the acquisition of controlling shareholding of Union Bank of Nigeria by Luxis and Magna, proof of funds, international verifiable bank statements (From the incorporation of the entities to date) and the shareholders that gave interest-free loans to the two entities separately (name, nationality, source, of the of the fund, proof of such funds, bank statements) as well as the relationship of the entities with Andrew Chukwudi Ojei, Jerome Olagunju Shogbon, Rahul Savara, Winston Odeh, Adaeze Udensi, Ekene Samuel Loius, Godwin Emefiele, Macombe Omoile, Tunde Lemo, Mudasir Amry, Faruk Gumel, Oluremi Oni, Vink Corporation Middle Est FCZ (together with the details of the shareholder that also gave Vink Corporation interest-free loan.

They are also to provide details of how Trust receipts from (Standard Chartered Bank), Zenith Nigeria Plc, and Zenith Bank (UK) were involved in the entire arrangement and also, the minutes of the board meetings, copy of the audited financial statements and management letter that arose from the audit of the financial statements of the two entities listed in (1) above as well as those of TTB and UBN from 2018 to date.

Lemo with the two shareholders are also to provide the details of any forbearance received from the CBN for UBN (before acquisition by TTB) and if they claimed that they did not know, they are directed to then come along with anyone who knows about it (with evidence), and also, the details of the loan capital from Afreximbank (Egypt), collaterals thereto and the involvement of the CBN in the entire arrangement.

Also requested are the details of any foreign exchange dealings that transacted with the CBN as retail or wholesale or facilitator with TGI, TTB, Luxis, Magna and other related entities, no matter how remotely connected and also, any other documents that can assist the Special Investigator in arriving at an informed decision on the investigation of TTB, UBN, CBN and any person of interest in the entire arrangement.