Ecobank Plc is in the news again. Just like always, the Bank is allegedly entangled in a fraud case with a limited liability company known as N.C Gibson International Limited that claims to have lost a whopping sum of N6, 572,541.12 million as a result of spurious and illegal charges on an account domicile with the Bank.
Ecobank is known to be one of the leading banks in the country but what is coming out of the bank in recent times is not encouraging.
In an affidavit sworn to by N.C Gibson International Limited in the Federal High Court, Lagos in the suit number Fitch/L/CS/1303/2012, the Lagos based company claimed that Ecobank has been increasing the interest charged on loan collected from the Bank.
N.C Gibson is a major distributor of recharge cards, sim cards, e-pins and other products to reputable telecommunication companies in Nigeria. It was gathered in 2011, the company secured a contract as major distributor of Airtel, hence in a bid to facilitate its business and also to ensure that it regularly meets its sales target, applied for a grant of credit facilities to finance the purchase of recharge cards, sim cards and e-pins from Airtel and Visafone.
To this end, Ecobank was said to accept the credit application and the terms and conditions were duly assented by Gibson International Limited. It was gathered that the Credit Facilities Agreement stipulated a tenor of 365 days that the maximum amount available to the Gibson at any time shall not exceed N100 million and the facilities that attract and interest rate of 16 % per annum well as processing & management of 2.5 percent each payable upon acceptance of this facility and the commission on turnover of 0.25 kobo per mille with N 200m monthly turnover.
However, after the completion and signing of the credit facility, Gibson claimed that Ecobank placed an embargo on stock of recharge cards that initial stock to be released shall not exceed N33, 600,000 being 60% of the stipulated N56,000,000 faced sale value.
Consequently, Gibson claimed that both employees of the company and representative of Ecobank went to Airtel Office to purchase stock worth N 100 million on behalf Gibson International Limited, of which Ecobank carted the entire stock to its office and later released N 33,600,000 worth of stock to Gibson.
But the smooth transaction started to hit brick wall few months later when, according to the company, Ecobank suddenly and unilaterally stopped releasing more stocks to the company stating that the initial N33, 600,000 worth of stock must be paid for in full before any other stock would be released.
Prior to this, the company claimed that many of its customers had already paid money into its account (0260010129662502) and were awaiting supplies from the company. After wards it become impossible for the company to release the goods or refund their fee as the bank was alleged to prevent the company from withstanding from the account domicile with it.
In addition, the company claimed that when it required that when it requested bank statement of its account, it observed that there were numerous irregular bank charges the imposed and collected by the bank which is contrary to the clear terms of the clear terms of the relevant credit facilities agreement
Hence, the company engaged the service of forensic consulting firm to reconcile the bank charges in Account No. (0260010129662502) with view of discovering the extent of illegal changes on the accounts. It was learnt an illegal charges of N6, 572,541 million which contradict section 3.2.4(g) of the CBN Monetary, Credit, and Foreign Trade& Exchange Policy Guidelines for Fiscal 2010/2011.
Moreover, by virtue of the breach of the CBN circular, the company claimed that it is entitled to N1, 356,340,000. 74 trillion as well as apology letter to the company within two weeks.
This, we gathered didn’t go well with Ecobank and declined several letters written by the consulting firm to summon the bank.
Instead, Ecobank was demanding a full offset of the entire loan fee despite the fact that over N40 million worth of goods is still within the banks disposal.
Meanwhile, the company has requested an order of the court to compel Ecobank to release the remaining stock of goods, as well as direct Ecobank to pay penalty of 100% of amount involved in the commission on turnover rate.