Alleged 668m debt: Heritage Bank, Ayo Animashaun fight over HIP TV
Smooth Promotions Limited, the owner of the music channel, HIP TV, and organiser of the Headies Awards has approached the Court of Appeal after a Federal High Court granted a motion ex parte filed by Heritage Bank Plc to acquire the firm over a purported N668m debt.
Smooth Promotions has also written a petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission accusing Heritage Bank of manipulating its bank account and levying excess charges on the firm to the tune of N185m.
It was learnt that Smooth Operations, which operates an account with number 5100021479 had applied for credit facilities from the bank between 2013 and 2015, some of which were not granted in full.
The loans include: an overdraft facility of N20m on August 12, 2013; an enhancement of the N20m loan to N60m on September 5, 2013; an overdraft facility to the tune of N40m and another loan of N250m to finance the purchase of an outdoor broadcasting vehicle.
Smooth Promotions also applied for an overdraft facility of N35m to augment its working capital and a consolidated term loan facility of N601m out of which only N176m was designated as disbursable.
Part of the security for the facilities was an all assets debenture over the company’s properties as well as a deed of personal guaranteed which was guaranteed by Mr. Ayo Animashaun in favour of the bank.
This implied that in the event that Smooth Promotions was unable to offset its debts, Heritage Bank could immediately appoint a receiver and take over the assets of the company
The firm said although all the funds were not released which frustrated its plans of expanding its operations, it repaid the loans.
Smooth Promotions said to its surprise, Heritage Bank in a letter dated February 13, 2017, claimed that it owed the bank the sum of N668m.
With the conviction that the purported indebtedness was false, Smooth Promotions engaged the services of an auditing firm, Messrs. SMD Consulting, to undertake a forensic investigation of its bank account.
Smooth Promotions said the investigation revealed that the bank levied excess charges on the firm to the tune of N185m.
Heritage Bank, however, approached Justice I.N Oweibo and filed a motion ex parte praying the court to affirm Gani Abubakar as the receiver.
The bank also asked the court to restrain the firm and its directors or its proxies from obstructing the activities of the receiver over the assets.
It also asked the court to bar the firm from disposing of, selling, mortgaging its assets
The court granted the ex parte order on March 22, 2019.
However, Smooth Promotions quickly dragged the matter before the Court of Appeal after a motion for stay of execution on April 10, 2019.
Meanwhile, Smooth Promotions has petitioned the EFCC, asking the commission to probe Heritage Bank for fraudulent and illegal imputation of false entries into the accounts of the firm.
The petition read in part, “It is our humble request that your unfettered investigative and prosecutorial powers to cause the investigation into the following: The manipulation of our account by the bank imputing illegal, unjustifiable charges and interests in the total sum of N185, 723, 175.37.
“The charge of interests and or default on the sum of N35,000,000 overdraft facility which was never disbursed, drawn down and or utilised by our company.” Punch