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Panic As Customer Alleges Sterling Bank Of N6 Billion Naira Fraud

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Fraud

-Sterling Bank Intimidated Us, Threatened To Sell Our Assets, Witness Claims

An account of how Sterling Bank allegedly debited one of its customers to the tune of 6 Billion Naira is causing unrest among depositors of the financial institution.

Questions on how safe depositors’ funds are have now become the order of the day, as many ask what will become of their funds in the nearest future.

Those present in an Ikeja High Court recently were shocked to hear how Sterling Bank debited the said sum from the account of Danium Energy Service Limited.

According to a court source, the bank had claimed that Danium Energy Service Limited defrauded it of 1.8 billion Naira.

Trouble between the energy service company and the bank started when the former discovered that it had been debited of 6 Billion Naira after a forensic audit of its statement of account.

Shading light on the issue in court, a Senior Financial Accountant identified as Musibau Rufai and employed at Danium Energy Service Limited told the court that the duo had entered into a joint merger in 2016 to acquire a tank farm in Akwa Ibom State with a 40 percent capital by the company and 60 percent capital loan input by Sterling Bank at the rate ofN195 to $1.

Rufai revealed that despite being aware of the terms of the agreement, Sterling Bank began to debit its account at the rate of N496 to a Dollar. He revealed that no response was gotten from the financial institution when it approached it to clarify the situation and find out why debits running into 250 percent charges had been deducted from their account.

In a crossroad on how to resolve the issue, Sterling Bank allegedly wrote a petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), alleging it had been induced to deliver to Danium Energy Services Limited the total sum of N1.8 Billion under the false pretense that Total Nigeria Plc vide purchase orders (PO) with reference NO: OPS/SUP/02/16/330 and OPS/SUP/02/33 dated February 3, 2016, contracted Danium Energy to supply 20, 000 metric tons of Automotive Gas Oil in two separate tranches of 10, 000 metric tons each valued at N2.3 billion.

Then, the EFCC alleged that the defendants, sometime in 2016, with intent to defraud, conspired amongst themselves to obtain the sum of N1, 820, 496, 000 by false pretence from Sterling Bank.

The EFCC also alleged that the defendants and knowingly forged a document titled: “RE: Offer for sale of Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) with Reference number: OPS/SUP/02/16/330 dated February 3, 2016, purported to have been issued by Total Nigeria Plc to the Managing Director of Danium Energy Services Limited.

Shockingly, during proceedings in court, Rufai, revealed that the company and the financial institution shared a cordial business relationship from 2014 until recently.

According to him, “Danium Energy Services Limited is a company that engages in the business of importing petroleum products and oil & gas.

“Sterling Bank approached Danium Energy to discuss about its intention to financing the company’s AGO transactions. It was the Manager of Sterling bank that visited the company basically to promote the bank by marketing its financial capacity.

“2016 was a big year for Danium Energy Services as it topped the chart as number three in AGO importation and that record attracted the bank to them. The bank said it wants to facilitate and finance the AGO transactions of Danium Energy.

“I was the Financial Accountant of Danium Energy and Services Limited, at the time, when Sterling bank and the company wanted to acquire a Tank Farm in Akwa Ibom State. It was a joint merger: with Danium Energy having 40% capital and bank to bring the remaining 60% capital loan to purchase the Tank farm,” he said.

Asked what led to the fraud petition written by the bank to the EFCC, he said, “As at the time, the LC (Letter of Credit) was consummated at the rate of N195 to $1. But the bank was debiting the company’s account domicile with Sterling Bank at the rate of N496 for $1.

Sterling Bank Grows Trading Income By 265% In Q3 2020

“And Danium Energy disagreed with this pattern and approached the bank on different meetings because they were charging us at almost 250%.

“We decided to audit our account with a third party forensic auditor and later sent the report of the auditing to the bank so they can reconcile our findings but no response was made by the bank.

“The report of the forensic auditor revealed that Danium Energy Services had been wrongly debited to the tune of N6 Billion and not the other way round. And the bank has not refuted the forensic audit till date. The bank is actually owing our company.

“When we approached the bank, they became hostile and began threatening our company. They even employed the services of a security company to intimidate us and took over the Tank Farm.

“They are still operating on the Tank Farm now. They threatened to sell off our assets because we have sufficient assets to offset the loan and we went to defend it by instituting a lawsuit against their actions.

“After the suit by Danium Energy Services against the bank at the Lagos State High Court, the matter was revered to mediation under the supervision of the Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice. The bank refused to attend the sessions because they insisted that we produce the forensic auditor that made the report.

“Their refusal to attend stalled the meetings for weeks and we asked them to give us the original statement of account of Danium Energy but they refused. The bank specifically instructed the mediator not to show us the document. It was then we realised that they didn’t want us to settle.

“Sterling Bank thereafter headed to court to charge us for fraud,” the witness said.

Emphasising his position, the witness maintained that based on the forensic auditor’s report on the account statement of Danium Energy Service Limited domicile at Sterling Bank, it was obvious that the bank had illegally and wrongfully debited it to the tune of N6 billion. Interestingly, Sterling Bank has kept mute on this position.

Meanwhile, Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo has adjourned the matter till 21 and 22 of January for cross-examination and continuation of trial.

 

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