Firm Slams N250million On FCMB Over Fraudulent Practices

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A limited liability company, Sebis International Company Limited, and its managing director, Mr. Sebastian Mokwe, have renewed their legal battle against First City Monument Bank Limited (FCMB), over an alleged loss of business and foreign partner.

In amended statement of claim, the company and its Managing Director have jointly approached a Federal High Court, Lagos, demanding the sum of N249, 914, 214.11 million, as specific damage and breach of banking contract, from the bank.

The plaintiffs are also seeking a court declaration that they are not in anyway indebted to the bank. And a declaration that the bank mismanaged their account as a result of its negligence and recklessness attitude.

The plaintiffs in an amended statement on oath deposed to by the company’s Managing Director, Mr. Sebastian Mokwe, and filed before the court by their lawyer, Mr. Emeka Ozoani, averred that on or about 2001, he approached the bank at its ASPAMDA branch, Trade Fair Complex, Lagos, with the details of credit facility offered him by a foreign partner known as ACE Corporation, South Korea, and that the credit facility that was offered to him were unconfirmed, irrevocable and operative letter of credit, with differed payment of 90 days, from the date of Bill of lading.

He stated that upon approaching the bank with the proforma invoice for the importation of oil filter for commercial vehicles, with the agreement that he will contribute 30 percent of the proforma invoice value which he did.

The deponent also stated that he had another transaction with the bank for importation of oil filters for commercial motorcycles and commercial motorcycles which he registered a brand name with trademark and logo as Horse Power Motorcycle.

Thereafter, addressed a letter of authority dated July 3, 2002, to Ace Corporation of South Korea, his foreign partners, authorizing them to use Horse Power Motorcycle, as his own brand name for the production of the motorcycles ordered.

He averred further that his company and himself agreed that all payments for the goods would be made into his company’s account with FCMB, and thereafter the bank would ensure that his foreign partner, (Ace Corporation of South Korea), was paid for the said imported goods having regard to the duration of the payment.

He stated that on his second transaction in the series involved 3×40 feet container of the said Horse Power Motorcycles valued at $212,081.00 USD, and bearely the conclusion of the transaction, he became sick and was hospitalized from one hospital to another for a very long time, due to his sickness, he instructed the bank to continue and conclude the remaining transaction with respect to the said three containers and all further transactions pending his recovery.

He further stated that by benefit of hindsight, he discovered that the staff and agents of the bank used the opportunity to decimated his company’s account with the bank in the most negligent and reckless manner.

He added that the said agents and staff of the bank concluded the transaction involving the said containers in his absence in the most unprofessional and unethical manner,adding that in the process of clearing the three containers, the bank engaged it’s clearing agent (Elder-Dempster Nigeria Limited), to clear and warehoused the goods.

He further stated that in the process of clearing of the containers, an official of the bank’s clearing agent in connivance with the bank’s agents and staff committed acts of fraud and criminality.

He added that instead of the bank’s staff to pay the import duty through the bank, they paid the duty to the Apapa branch of UBA, and concocted duty payment receipt at the sum of N6.126,736.38 million.

He also stated that in order to conceal the deal, FCMB on March 7, 2003, addressed a letter to the Apapa branch manager of UBA, with letter titled ‘Re-confirmation of Import Duty Payment by Sebis International Company Limited’, and that the confirmation was done by one Shutti Adeniyi and that the said duty of N6.126,736.38 million, confirmed to have been paid through UBA Plc by FCMB.

He further stated that on February 8, 2005, the bank addressed a letter to him denying payment of the said duty for which the bank had earlier obtained confirmation.

He stated further that instead of FCMB investigating the scam over the payment of N6,123,736.38 million duties, the bank who had his company’s account under its control, quickly paid the said sum as duties and instantly debited his company’s account, despite the fact that his company had earlier refunded the allegedly paid duty.

He stated that while the above fraud was playing out and yet to settle, his company imported 40 feet container valued at $87,900.00 USD of brand new motorcycles (CKD) under the same arrangement with the bank.

He also stated that on or before January 28, 2003, FCMB approved another Form M for 4×40 feet containers, and thereafter opened Letter of Credit with number LC:1803/036CBL), in the sum of $323, 280.00 USD, on his company’s behalfand in favour of the foreign suppliers (ACE Corporation of South Korea).

And that the said 4×40 feet container were for brand new motorcycles (CKD) On the arrival of the said containers, FCMB through its agent cleared and warehoused the consignment, and the sale were supervised by FCMB and ensured that the proceeds from the sale were paid into his company’s account with FCMB.

He stated that when the proceeds from the sales of the consignment were grossed into his company’s account, FCMB refused to pay the foreign suppliers, but gave frivolous reasons despite the fact that the bank opened irrevocable and operative letter of Credit.

He further stated that the consequencely FCMB action led to the cancelation of the transactions between him and foreign supplier which resulted in his company losing N38 million as anticipated profit.

And that despite the bank’s action making him to lose the above amount, FCMB still wrote a petition against him at the anti-fraud unit of Nigeria Police Force, Alagbon, and Special Fraud Unit (SFU), Ikoyi, on allegation that he was indebtedness to the bank.

He claimed that the action of FCMB has destroyed his business, goodwill and franchise, which has caused him to suffered specific and general damage.

Consequently he urged the court to award him the total sum of N249, 914, 214.11 million, as specific damage and breach of banking contract.

The presiding judge Ayotunde Faji has fixed March 31, for the hearing of the case.

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