The Federal High Court in Abuja and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) have been asked to wind up and revoke the operational licence of the Heritage Bank over an alleged state of financial insolvency of the financial institution.
The court and CBN were asked to invoke the provisions of section 408, 409 and 410 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act 1990 to liquidate the bank because of its alleged inability to meet up with demands of its customers due to its distressed status.
An Abuja based company, Geonel Integrated Services Limited in a petition filed against the bank at the Federal High Court alleged that Heritage bank has been showing signs of distress and insolvency in the recent times and may cause colossal economic damages to Nigerians unless it is wind up on court order. In the petition filed by the security outfit, it claimed that it maintains four separate accounts with Nos. 1300083902, 6200100931, 6000105125 and 3200121515 as well as a fixed deposit account at the Abuja branch of the bank.
Petitioner owned by a foreign investor, Mr. Wolfgang Reinl, an Australian Security Experts claimed it has N1,811,555,258 and another $85,859 in the accounts and that the huge sums have been trapped in the bank due to its inability to meet up with its expected obligations. In the petition filed by Mr. Mazi Afam Osigwe, an Abuja based lawyer, the company alleged that it had made several applications through cheques to transact withdrawal business but that the bank had failed and neglected to honour the cheques.
Petitioner alleged that in January last year, a Judge of the court, Binta Murtala Nyako granted the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) an order to freeze the accounts for a period of six months to carry out some investigations.
It claimed that the order granted EFCC expired on July 24, 2016 and that the same Justice Binta Murtala Nyako confirmed expiration of the order in her ruling delivered on November 16, 2016. As a result of the inability of the bank to honour its obligations, the petitioner claimed that it has been actively instigating the EFCC to secure a fresh order to stop it from accessing or operating the accounts so as to cover up its distressed status. The petitioner pleaded several newspaper reports that the bank is financially distressed and the denial of its management to the contrary.
It however said that in spite of the public denial of the distress, the bank has been unable to honour several financial obligations to customers rushing to withdraw their money to escape unpleasant economic effects.
It therefore urged the court to declare the bank distressed, insolvent and to hold that the bank is indebted to it to the tune of N1.8b and another $85,859. Petitioner also applied for an order of the court to wind up the bank and another order compelling the CBN to withdraw or revoke the banking licence of the bank. Meanwhile, no date has yet been fixed for hearing of the petition.