Union Bank: Again CBN Investigator Summons TTB Chairman, Savara, Lemo

The special investigator, Jim Obazee, appointed by President Bola Tinubu to probe the activities of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has once again invited three top officials of Titan Trust Bank to clarify the alleged fraudulent acquisition of Union Bank.

In an invitation letter signed by the Head of Operations, Office of the Special Investigator, DCP, Eloho Okpoziakpo, those summoned are the Chairman of Tropical General Investments Group, Cornelius Vink, the Managing Director of the group,
Rahul Savara and the Chairman Titan Trust Bank (TTB) Babatunde Lemo.

In the letter seen by LEADERSHIP, Okpoziakpo said that the Investigative Panel extended another invitation to the three men to counter TTB’s allegation that they were not given a fair hearing.

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He also told them that if they failed to honour the invitation, “it will be construed that they have decided to forfeit their purported shareholdings in TTB and Union Bank of Nigeria, irrespective of which vehicle they are using to own the purported shares.”

Lemo had, in a press release issued on December 24, in reaction to the allegations contained in a report submitted to President Tinubu by the Jim Obazee panel, claimed that the bank had fully cooperated with the panel and that all the information requested was presented on September 1, 2023.

But Okpoziakpo noted in the letter that the defence put up by Lemo is not only offensive but also contrary to the statements he and other persons connected with the transactions made under caution before the panel.

The letter read in part: “Please refer to your discussion with the Special Investigator earlier today regarding the offensive defence that your good self issued in Punch newspapers, on behalf of TTB, which you chair, as well as the email you sent to the Special Investigator today wherein you tried to provide clarification on your reaction to the report on TTB.

“In the newspapers, you referred to Cornelius Vink and Rahul Savara as “prominent global entrepreneurs and having thriving businesses in Nigeria…”.

“In your email and earlier discussion with the Special Investigator, you suggested that both of them be invited to clarify their share ownership and given seven days to make such clarification, failure which they will forfeit their shares to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“We are surprised at your request about these two shareholders. They were given this opportunity via a letter to them dated 28th August 2023 (copy attached as Appendix 1).

“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 2023, 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” (copy attached as Appendix 2).

“Until this offensive defence that you put in the public domain, the Special Investigator has neither heard from them nor received the requested documents.

“Accordingly, you are here invited to come along with Messrs Cornelius Vink and Mr Rahul Savara to meet with the Team of Special Investigators by 2 pm on 28th December 2023 at the Department of Force Intelligence (DFI), opposite Nigeria Police Force Head-quarters Shehu Shagari Way Area 11, Garki Abuja: without fail or excuse.

“Please Inform them to come along with all the documents/information requested from them by the letter to Mr Cornelius Vink dated 28h August 2023. You must also make additional statements to your earlier statement on that day.

“Kindly note that if Messrs Cornelius Vink and Rahul Savara refuse 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.

“Should you also refuse to attend the meeting to provide additional statement to your earlier statement made in August 2023, it will be construed that you misled the Nigerian public with your reaction in the Punch Newspapers today which has gained wide publicity in both electronic and print media.

“This invitation is to further ensure that it is beyond reasonable doubt that the Federal Government of Nigeria has given you a fair hearing,” Okpoziakpo stated.

19th April 2024
Nigerian Pantagraph