- Heritage Bank aiding the dirty deals
Revelations are beginning to emerge on how family members or cronies of President Muhammadu Buhari acquired Keystone Bank and 9Mobile telecoms company, transactions that are generating controversies across Nigeria. The story is not complete without the prominent roles of CBN and AMCON in manipulating the acquisition processes. The revelations indicate that President Buhari has through his appointments restructured the federal agencies to facilitate the acquisition of several businesses and create an investment empire in the Katsina emirate being fronted by Alhaji Isa Funtua. Isa Funtua was alleged to have illegally acquired KeyStone Bank and 9Mobile through the influence of the Managing Director of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).
Accordingly, Keystone Bank and 9Mobile were alleged to be acquired in controversial circumstances by Alhaji Isa Funtua, a close friend of President Muhammadu Buhari, through purported manipulations by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).
It was disclosed that the son-in-law of Isa Funtua, Ahmed Kuru, was appointed Chief Executive Officer/Managing Director (CEO) of AMCON to replace Chike Obi, who was said to have been unceremoniously removed from office before the expiration of his term.
Kuru was alleged to have sold Keystone Bank and 9Mobile to Isa Funtua in the most bizarre processes that circumvented the rules. The AMCON CEO was alleged to have sold Keystone Bank to his father-in-law, Isa Funtua, without AMCON Board’s approval, and in connivance with the Central bank of Nigeria (CBN) and NDIC at a grossly undervalued price of N25 billion.
It was recalled that Enterprise Bank was sold at over N60 billion and Mainstreet Bank sold at over N100 billion during the Chike Obi administration in AMCON.
AMCON was said to have taken over all bad debts before the sale of Keystone Bank to Isa Funtua. Thus, Funtua acquired the Bank with all the Assets and no Liabilities. The Management of AMCON was said to have been forced to approve the sales of KeyStone Bank to Funtua at the cheap cost while disqualifying investors who made higher bidding offers. It was alleged that there was no transparency in the bidding and acquisition processes. The process was said to be manipulated by Kuru to ensure his father-in-law, Isa Funtua, acquired the Bank which payment allegedly went through corruption and manipulations, making Funtua acquire the Bank without personal investment capital.
Alleged Corrupt Payment for Keystone Bank
Kuru was alleged to have manipulated the N25 billion payment for the acquisition of Keystone Bank by Funtua using AMCON funds. Isa Funtua Group was said to have paid merely N5 billion to AMCON, “while the balance of N20 billion was later paid through the most corrupt approach ever perpetrated by AMCON in favour of the Buyer.” National Daily gathered that AMCON allegedly moved N20 billion of the Corporation’s funds as a fixed deposit at GTBank to Heritage Bank. Heritage Bank, then, paid the N20 billion on behalf of the Funtua Group to AMCON. It was, accordingly, alleged that, “AMCON used its own funds as a collateral for a loan to the Funtua Group for N20 billion to effect the payment.”
The Isa Funtua Group was said to have gone seeking loan of N20 billion at the Interbank Market to refund AMCON’s fund used in taking over Keystone Bank. Thus, Keystone Bank was alleged to be operating in debts and is categorized as one of the undercapitalized Banks in Nigeria.
It was indicated that current and former staff of AMCON, NDIC, CBN and Keystone Bank staff are willing to attest to the manipulated processes in the acquisition of the Bank.
The Sale of 9-Mobile
Moreover, the sale 9Mobile, the former Etisalat, to the Funtua Group was said to have defied due process. Mr. Adrian Wood of Teleology Holdings, a telecoms professional, was alleged to have collaborated with the Funtua Group for the acquisition of 9-Mobile. The two business partners were said to lack the involvement of qualified Operator to support their bid for acquisition of 9Mobile. This was identified as one of the minimum conditions of NCC. It was noted that Adrian Wood, alone, was not a substitute for an Operator.
National Daily gathered that the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) gave several conditions that must be met by the Ultimate Buyer of 9-Mobile to ensure protection of shareholders value, prevent loss of jobs, protect the telecoms industry from slipping into a crisis and ensure transparency and professionalism in the post-acquisition entity.
The conditions NCC insisted must be met by the Buyer include: Strong Telecoms Operating Experience, Strong Financial Capabilities, Strong Technical Knowledge and Strong Administrative Skills.
It was alleged that the moment Teleology was announced winner of the bidding, the Funtua Group immediately eliminated Adrian Woods from the Management, reducing Woods to an Insignificant Shareholder. Secondly, the Funtua Group allegedly compelled Keystone Bank to pay $50 million as down payment for the acquisition of 9-Mobile. Thirdly, Teleology Nigeria allegedly replaced Teleology Holdings to completely remove the influence of Adrian Woods from 9-Mobile. Fourthly, the Funtua Group allegedly borrowed $260 million from the African Exim Bank. Fifthly, the Funtua Group through the Presidency forced NCC to approve the sale tot eh Group without meeting 90% of the conditions prescribed by the Commission. Sixthly, the Funtua Group was said to have forced the NCC Board to approve the sale through the influence and pressure from the Presidency. Seventh, the Funtua mounted pressure to use the influence of the CBN to force Banks to waive their own conditions on the sale of 9-Mobile to the Teleology Nigeria Group.
There was the innuendo that AMCON as presently constituted is a tool in the hands of the Funtua Group to acquire peoples’ businesses without paying for it or using AMCON’s money to pay for the Funtua Group. It was alleged that indigenous airlines like Arik and Aero Contractors, and other companies under AMCON, are being considered for acquisition in the near future. “Of course, the Funtua Group has been penciled down as the preferred bidders. The devious plot is that if Buhari wins in 2019 for a second term, all the other companies under AMCON will be sold to the Funtua Group,” it was alleged
Meanwhile, this report is still being investigated by National Daily to get the side of the relevant agencies.