Union Bank acquisition: We’re ready to face you, TTBank officials tell Obazee

Jim Obazee.
Jim Obazee.
Union Bank acquisition: We’re ready to face you, TTBank officials tell Obazee

The three top officials of Titan Trust Bank invited by the special investigator, appointed by President Bola Tinubu to probe the activities of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Jim Obazee to provide clarification into the alleged fraudulent acquisition of Union Bank have vowed to cooperate fully with the investigation.

The officials: the chairman of Titan Trust Bank (TTB), Babatunde Lemo, the chairman of Tropical General Investments Group, Cornelius Vink and the managing director of the group, Rahul Savara, made the pledge in a reply sent to the Investigator, Jim Obazee, through their lawyers yesterday.

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The head of operations, Office of the Special Investigator, DCP Eloho Okpoziakpo, had in the letter dated December 23, 2923, asked the trio to appear before the panel on December 28 at the Department of Force Intelligence (DFI), opposite Nigeria Police Force Head-quarters Shehu Shagari Way Area 11, Garki Abuja, without fail or excuse.

Okpoziakpo had also stated that the Investigative Panel extended a fresh invitation to the three men to counter TTB’s allegation that they were not given a fair hearing.

He also told them that if they failed to honour the invitation, “it will be construed that they have decided to forfeit their purported shareholdings in TTB and Union Bank of Nigeria, irrespective of which vehicle they are using to own the purported shares.”

But in the letter signed by Prof. Gbolahan Elias (SAN) on their behalf, the three men claimed that they would not be able to honour the invitation because they are presently out of the country for family and other reasons.

They, however, promised to make themselves available as soon as they returned to Nigeria.

The letter reads: “We trust that this letter meets you well. We are lawyers, to Titan Trust Bank Ltd. (“TTB”) and Union Bank Plc (“Union”) (the “Banks”). We respectfully have their instructions to write this letter regarding the invitations in your letter to TTB dated December 23, 2023.

“Unfortunately, Mr Tunde Lemo and the two largest ultimate investors in the Banks (Mr Cornelius Vink and Mr Rahul Savara) are currently away from Nigeria for family and other reasons.

“That is typically so at this time of the year. They will not be in Nigeria before the second week of January 2024. They will honour the invitations entirely soon after they come in.

“About the information requested, which we submitted earlier on September 1, 2023, at the DSS HQ as evidenced in Annex 1 therewith, we will resubmit the information tomorrow morning for your kind review.

“The individual invitees and the Banks re-iterate their willingness and readiness to cooperate with your good selves in your important work.

Obazee had, in his report he recently submitted to President Tinubu, alleged that some persons were used as proxies by a former CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, to set up Titan Trust Bank and acquire Union Bank.

However, Union Bank had insisted that the acquisition of the bank followed due process and met all regulatory requirements, including that of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Central Bank of Nigeria.

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