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Tension As Stanbic IBTC Bank Locks Horns With Customer In Legal Tussle Over ₦344m Debt

Tension As Stanbic IBTC Bank Locks Horns With Customer In Legal Tussle Over ₦344m Debt

The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has been approached to wade into a legal tussle in which Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc and one of its customers, Enegas Power Limted are locking horns over an alleged debt of over ₦344m Debt against the customer.

In its counter claim against the bank, Enegas Power Limted, a shipping company and two directors of the company, Mr Frank Karkite and Christian Anenih who are the guarantors of the loan, are claiming the sum of ₦200 million and 250,000 United states Dollars against the bank for allegedly cynically and unilaterally varied the terms of offer of the loan.

However, in their statement of defence the defendants are counter calming in the sum of ₦200 million and 250,000 United states Dollars.

In the amended statement of  claim filed before a Federal high court in Lagos, south west Nigeria, by Stanbic IBTC bank Plc, the bank alleged that by letter dated 24th September 2013  Enegas Power Limited requested for a $2,300,000 Asset acquisition facility from the bank to enable it acquire liquefied  Petroleum Gas(LPG) Vessel  MT ANGAS to enhance its operations.

Consequently the bank granted the credit facilities in the   following manner Value and Asset finance: ₦155,040,000, letter of credit facility: USDI, 615,000, Import finance facility:₦ 155,04,000 to the company to finance:60% of the cost of purchasing of the said vessel named MV ANGAS from Starway Management Property limited Company.  The banking facilities were later varied by the bank by the request made by the defendants.

The credit was accepted on behalf of the company by Mr Frank Karkite and Mr Christian Anenih in their Capacities as the Directors of the company and they also secured the loan by their personal guarantee in writing.

As part of the conditions for granting the credit facilities, the bank demanded additional security to cover its total exposure to the company but the company failed to provide same as demanded.

The bank alleged further that the company breached the terms of the credit facilities in that after the bank had disbursed the credit facilities to it and utilized them it failed to deliver to Nigeria the financed Vessel for which credit facilities were granted, contrary to its agreement with the bank, the company also failed to pay-back the credit as at when due, as it has refused to pay the balance of the loan amounting to ₦ 343,895,137.00.

Wherefore the claims of Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc against the defendants jointly and severally are as follows.

The sum of N343,895,13,000, interest on the said sum at the agreed rate of 34% per annum  from  1st of January 2017. The sum of ₦ 5million being the cost of litigation solicitors fee.

However, in an amended joint statement of defence and counter claims of the defendants filed before the court by a Lagos lawyer Barrister Matthew Egbadon, the defendants averred that the facility was not paid to them but disbursed directly to Starway Management Property limited sellers of the Vessel MT ANGAS by the bank, as the bank agreed to finance 60%of the cost of purchasing the Vessel  while the defendants agreed to provide equity  of 40% towards purchase.

There was delay in bringing the vessel to Nigeria which was caused by the refusal of   issuance of travelling visa to the Nigerian crew members because of the unforeseen Ebola Epidemic outbreak in Nigeria coupled with the consequential maintenance and harbour services led to the incurring of bills on the vessel.

The sum which was eventually approved but not fully  disbursed by the bank to meet the cost and other incidental matters to  facilitate the movement of the Vessel to  Nigeria from Istanbul, Turkey was ₦193,716,912.13 and addition of temporary import bond of ₦ 37,855,600 was to be  issued by the bank, but this was not done.

Consequently the bank flagrantly violated the terms of the credit facility and  reneged on the release of additional funds which made it impossible for the company to fulfil her own terms and  conditions and bring the vessel into Nigeria. The defendants deny, the amount  in the sum stated in the bank’s claim and alleged that  the banks unilaterally altering the interest rate of the facility is unconscionable, fraudulent and meant to embarrass  the defendants.

The defendants averred further that after a long wait without disbursement of funds by the bank and with the funds required to fix the vessel increasing couple with accumulated crew wages port charges and maintenance  fees soaring, It was agreed that the company should source for funds to carry out the repairs, pay port charges and other debts relating to the vessel pending  when funds would be made available by the bank, the defendant then obtained loan from bluebarrel company  through the bank cover as follows #45million,from sterling bank #35million from Skye bank and USD250,000 sourced from overseas.

Eventually the additional facility was approved in April, 2015 by Stanbic IBTC bank the company accepted the offer and again, the bank cynically and unilaterally varied the terms of the offer.

Meanwhile, while the waiting game was on to get the banks disbursement of funds under the additional facility the vessel continued to incur debts on repair works, crew wages, port dues and other related fees at the pot of Turzla in Turkey to the prejudice and embarrassment of the defendants.

The fourth defendant Bluebarrel Ltd later secure a bank guarantee for USD3, million from a finance company, General equity Aukland New Zealand in favour of the bank to enable the vessel to get to Nigeria, however after the Enegas Power company accepted the offer, Stanbic IBTC bank again  unilaterally varied the term of the security and requested the company to provide a new collateral to cover the entire facility both the sums already disbursed and the sums yet to be disbursed which  condition the company accepted out of frustration.

Eventually the Vessel was sold and scrapped pursuant to court order in Turkey 2016 obtained by the creditors due to the banks negligence and breach of contractual obligation to the defendants. The bank then began to write letters to the defendants demanding for payment of the facilities which, was guaranteed by bank guarantee in the  sum of  $3million, which the bank had negligently failed to act on.

In the particular of fraud and material breaches, the defendants stated that, upon Enegas Power limited company payment of the sum of #120million as its initial 40% equity contribution to the purchase of the Vessel the bank after deducting charges advertently and fraudulently added the equity sum of 40% to its own 60% and recorded both as principal loan in the sum of #255,105,400.00 and began to charge interest thereon against the company.

The statement of account issued to the company and pleaded by the bank shows a deficit of #7,885.301.20 while the bank claims the sum of #343,895,137 on the facility

The bank’s claim that there is an agreement between the parties to be charging 34% on the facilities was dubious fraudulent, and unconscionable.

The bank’s laid claim to 100% ownership of the money which both parties have contributed on  the  Vessel and also began to charge exorbitant interest on same against the defendants.

The defendants stated that they are not liable or indebted to the bank in the sum of #343,895,137.00 or any sum of money whatsoever.

Consequently the defendant counter claim as follows:

The sum of #120million being their initial 40% equity contribution towards the purchase of the Vessel MT ANGAS.

The sum of #80million being further sum of money paid by the defendants on the maintenance and services of the vessel as a  result of the refusal of the bank to meet its contractual obligation on the vehicle finance facility.

The sum of USD250,000  being additional sum of money paid on the maintenance wages, repair  and other incidentals on the vessel by the defendants through the bank.

General damages in the sum of #500million against Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc to the Enegas power limited to counter claim for the good will, loss of business opportunities, reputation and

specifically for the serious  mental agony suffered by the Directors of the company as a result of the negligence breaches and fraud caused by Stanbic IBTC bank Plc to the defendants.

The presiding Judge, Saliu Saidu has adjourned till 16 of May 2019 for hearing of the case  to commence.