The management of Access Bank Plc, yesterday, reacted to a recent story about its CEO, Mr Herbert Wigwe, and three others being dragged before an Ogun State High Court by the Police Special Fraud Unit.
The bank tried to clarify – In a statement issued to the Nigerian Stock Exchange, the tier-1 bank tried to clarify the issue. It said it has now been compelled to publicly explain the circumstances that resulted in the legal dispute.
It dates back to 2015 – In 2015, the bank made financial provision for a customer — Metal Steel Products Limited — to import billets and other machinery used for the expansion of the customers’ factory. But following the arrival of the imported goods, the company, (i.e, the customer), went ahead to clear imports without first making some necessary payments.
Access Bank was first to involve the PSFU – Consequently, Access Bank Plc reported the development to the Police Special Fraud Unit, which obtained a court order for Access Bank to takeover Metal Steel Products Limited’s business operations.
Why a receiver was appointed – Meanwhile, a receiver/manager was appointed, who took over the company’s business and was eventually able to make the payment that had been the bone of contention. The receiver/manager also obtained a court order from a Federal High Court to sell the billets.
Metal Steel Products Limited institutes legal action – Following the selloff of the billets, Metal Steel Products Limited instituted a legal action claiming ownership of the goods. This resulted in a failed attempt to settle the matter between the company and the receiver/manager, thereby reigniting the legal dispute.
The media report – Hence, the media report about Mr Wigwe and other defendants — Alawode Oluseye, Bayo Adesina, and even Access Bank Plc — being charged. The defendants were charged with 21 counts of conspiracy and fraudulent disposal of trust property, fraudulent conversion, stealing and false representation.
Conspiracy to steal? – The petitioner had claimed that the defendants conspired and stole 23,754.413 metric tonnes of steel billets valued at ₦2.5 billion.