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Polaris Bank Limited: Customer Petitions Polaris Bank Over Misappropriation Of Funds

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Madif Engineering Services Limited has petitioned Nigeria’s commercial bank Polaris Bank Limited for Misappropriation Of Funds

Polaris Bank Limited is currently alleged to be involved in a reported financial mess bordering on reputational issues. This follows the decision of one of the bank’s customers , Madif Engineering Services Limited to petition the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission over an alleged inappropriate transfer of the sum of N220, 000,000 from its current account domiciled with the bank to another account without authorization.

In a petition filed by Ntephe, Smith & Wills, Barristers and Solicitors on behalf of Madif Engineering Services Limited on March 31st, 2020 and exclusively obtained by The New Diplomat, the aggrieved customer is demanding the refund of the said money and payment of the interest accrued to it.

According to the petition, the said sum was allegedly debited illegally and without authorization by transfers to another account where the bank’s account officer in charge of the petitioner’s client is directly connected to.

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“We seek your urgent intervention in getting Polaris Bank Limited to reverse the fraudulent debit of the whopping sum of N220m from the account of Madif Engineering Services Limited {our client} and to cause the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN to perform its statutory regulatory duty of sanctioning the defaulting bank and protecting the unsuspecting banking public, in this case, our said client.

“This petition is issued at our client’s instructions due to the continued impunity of Polaris Bank Limited {formerly Skye Bank Plc} and its respective officers that were involved in the fraudulent transfer and also the prolonged inertia, ineptitude, cover-up and or the dereliction of statutory duty on the part of the CBN which have caused serial economic and personal hardships upon our client and numerous Nigerians in its employment for over three years. The malfeasance has, in addition, hampered the smooth execution of public infrastructure works contracted to our clients.

“Our client’s instruction is that Polaris Bank {Skye Bank at that time} which provides banking services for our client had on 21st October 2016 without our client’s authorization, debited our client’s current account numbered 1771306754 to the sum f N220, 000, 000 by transfers to Anngood Global Investment Limited, a company related to or connected with the bank’s account officer in charge of our client’s account Mr. Hezekiah Duru.

“The Funds were taken out of a milestone payment N306, 455, 207. 49 made by the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC towards the construction of the Joinkrama Community Internal Road Network in Rivers State. That project has suffered prolonged delays as a direct consequence, thereby frustrating the intended benefits for the community’s populace.

“Our client’s Managing Director and sole signatory to the account, Mrs. Benedicta Onwuamaegbu, neither signed the letter that was presented by the bank’s officer for the transfer nor was contacted to confirm it. Our client insists that the letter was forged,” the petition stated.

The petitioner revealed that several attempts to have the transfer reversed were unsuccessful while efforts to get CBN to act accordingly were also unsuccessful. “Our client and we on its behalf have made several demands to Polaris Bank to reverse the debit and pay interest at the applicable rate to our client, but the bank has remained recalcitrant. We have also since July 2017 exchanged a series of correspondence and met with the top banking regulator, CBN but the apex bank has curiously refused to act to compel a redress.  

“After eight months of claiming to take its time to extensively investigate our petition, CBN hosted a meeting with the bank and us on March 22, 2018, at its headquarters in Abuja, the only outcome of the meeting was the decision by CBN to engage the Nigeria Police and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC to obtain forensic investigation. Despite several written reminders and its repeated promises to inform us of the results, CBN has failed to do so, two years after the meeting”, the petitioner alleged.

Writing further, the  petitioner alleged that the CBN was acting in a rather curious manner and suspicious manner. “Soon after that meeting, CBN took over Skye Bank, re-established it as a bridge bank with the new name –Polaris Bank, and constituted its management. This is a strong ground for suspicions that CBN knew the truth all the time but on account of its imminent interest in and plan to take over the Skye Bank refused to perform its statutory obligation to our client and the entire banking public by extension abused its fiduciary position at the material time and violated the high trust on which hangs the integrity of the banking and financial system, by succumbing to a conflict of interest and other possible ulterior motives”, the petition stated.POLARIS & CBN Petition (1)e back to Messrs Madif inviting her Lawyers and Solicitors to a reconciliation meeting in Abuja for Thursday 22, March 2018 “ wherein the basis of computations would be validated with a view to resolving the issues raised.” But the petitioner said no fruitful or satisfactory resolution came out of the meeting.

Similarly, on May 3, 2019, Messrs Madif wrote a strongly worded letter to the Group managing director of Polaris Bank asking the bank to correct the alleged illegal debit and pay accruable interest on the funds accordingly. The petitioner also asked for monetary compensation for the loss of goodwill and unwarranted deprivation of use of the fund as well as operational costs incurred in the course of pursuing the matter.

They gave the bank 14 days’ notice from the date of receipt of the letter or else they would initiate necessary legal actions against the financial institution and other actions deemed legally appropriate.

 

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