Alleged N7bn debt: Presidential panel threatens to slam Unity Bank with economic sabotage

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The Special Presidential Investigation Panel for Recovery of Public Property said on Monday that it might charge Unity Bank with offences of economic sabotage if the bank refused to return the about N7bn the bank was owing the Federal Government.

A statement by SPIPRPP’s Head, Media & Communication¸ Lucie-Ann Laha, said the N7bn “Represents the sum of $15,561,769.99 and N1,488,455,810.90), being excess and arbitrary charges on accounts of some agencies of government by the bank before the institution of Treasury Single Account”.

The statement said the agencies from whose account the “excess and arbitrary charges” had been deducted by the bank were the Nigerian Ports Authority, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, the Nigeria Customs Service, the Kaduna Refinery and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency.

It stated that the bank had agreed on the amount earlier in February, this year, but “has neither proffered a payment plan nor demonstrated good faith by actually initiating payments”.

“Instead, the bank has severed all communications with the Panel in this regard,” the panel said.

Threatening to institute charges against the bank, the panel stated that it “may slam a charge of economic sabotage on Unity Bank if the bank persists in refusing to return the over seven billion Naira it owes Federal Government, to the Federation Account”.

The panel led by Chief Okoi Obono-Obla said it had commissioned a team of experts including forensic auditors to look into the operations of accounts of Ministries Department and Agencies in commercial banks within the country prior to the commencement of TSA.

It said the effort had unearthed some sharp practices and elicited indictments.

“Some of the indicted banks have since agreed to a refund plan and in fact commenced payments. Unity Bank has however not made any move in this regard,” it stated. Punch


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