All over the world, banks are institutions that are well respected and placed on a high pedestal. This is because they are the custodian of all their customers’ hard earned money and investments, and consequently, play a vital role in shaping their future. More importantly, the bank should be responsible, reliable and trustworthy in a bid to sustain the loyalty and patronage of its customer. But if the reverse is the case, then there is fire on the mountain.
One dude who has got his fingers burnt due to the irresponsibility of a bank is Mohammed, the MD/CEO of Briclinks Integrated Services Limited located at 4, Oguda Close, Opposite Lake Chad, Maitama, Abuja. Mohammed, who is also the biological son of General Muhammadu Buhari (Retd), has been duped to the tune of N3.66billion by Sterling Bank Plc.
On 29 August, 2012, Mohammed’s company (Briclinks) signed a sales and purchase contract agreement with Frank Karkite owned Enegas Power Limited, located at 14 Oladipo Street, 2nd Avenue, Abacha Estate, Ikoyi, Lagos.
The deal is for Briclinks to supply Low Pour Fuel Oil (LPFO).
Part of the agreement reads that “The seller (Briclinks) has agreed to sell and the buyer (Enegas) has agreed to buy on CIF basis a single cargo of total quantity of 40,000 Metric Tonnes ±10% of Nigerian Petroleum Product delivered to Abidjan, Cote d’ivoire.
On 3 September, 2012, Olanrewaju Olalusi and Morohuke Eyi-Ogungbamila, both of the Structured Finance department of Sterling Bank, stamped and acknowledged a letter with the bank’s letterhead paper dated 29 August.
The letter, which was sent to Mohammed, had the title ‘Irrevocable payment for the supply of petroleum product.’
As a matter of fact, Enegas, the company Mohammed supplied the petroleum products, is a customer of Sterling Bank, and had instructed his bank to write Mohammed, confirming that the sum of N3.66billion for the supply of the goods will be transferred to Briclinks’ Ecobank account immediately the demanded goods have been delivered.
The letter from Sterling Bank reads in parts: “The buyer (Enegas) has requested us to issue an irrevocable payment undertaking in your favour for the contract sum N3,066,000,000.00 (three billion and sixty-six million naira only) to secure payment for the supply of 40,000 Metric Tons ±10% of Nigeria Petroleum Product delivered to Abidjan, Cote’d’Ivoire for a period of 30 days.
“In compliance with their request, we, Sterling Bank Plc, irrevocably undertake to remit the payment for the contract to Briclinks Integrated Services Limited based on the terms of the agreement dated 29 August, 2012 upon submission of the under listed documents indicating discharge of the cargo into nominated tank/storage facility or STS, of the total quantity of products loaded.”
The requested documents in question are bill of lading with copies, commercial invoices, certificate of origin, certificate of quality, certificate of quantity, cargo manifest and warranty title.
In accordance with the agreements, Mohammed delivered the products, and equally produced the documents requested by Sterling Bank.
But he got what he didn’t bargain for. Attempts made by Florence Maduko and Iyabo Mosaku, Mohammed’s account officers at Ecobank were hitting brick walls.
On 24 September, 2012, a letter from Ecobank jointly signed by Funmi Osinowo and Florence Maduko-Nwokocha, and sent to Mohammed stated that “We are sorry your request for an IBPU from the bank cannot be processed as the Irrevocable Bank Payment Undertaking (IBPU) from Sterling Bank provided by your company is not sufficient to back up the request. Please refer to the confirmation of the IBPU sent to your company by Sterling Bank Plc.”
While this drama lasted, Mohammed was stunned as his account officers in Ecobank received a letter from Sterling Bank claiming that the confirmation letter sent to him earlier on 3 September was void.
This time around, the letter jointly signed by Femi Aiyegbusi (Legal department) and Justina Lewa (Company Secretary/Legal adviser) of Sterling Bank, claimed that “We refer to your purported Irrevocable Payment Undertaking of August 29, 2012 for the supply of petroleum products.
“Please be informed that the said document was not validly issued on behalf of Sterling Bank Plc for the following reasons: The document was not executed by two directors or a director and the company secretary of the bank.
“The document does not bear the bank’s common seal. Consequently, we advise that you discountenance the said document as it was not signed by the officers of the bank with the authority to do so and is therefore void and of no legal effect.”
Subsequently, the matter was reported at Lion Building Police Station, where Mohammed and Olanrewaju Olalusi, the Sterling Bank staff who acknowledged that his bank would remit the money were invited for interrogation.
More details and updates on the case soon.