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Ecobank gets restraining order against Honeywell, Otudeko over N5.5b debt



Ecobank gets restraining order against Honeywell, Otudeko over N5.5b debt

Ecobank Nigeria Limited has sought a restraining order from the Federal High Court in Lagos against Anchorage Leisures Limited from accessing its funds in 20banks over an alleged N5.5billion debt.

The bank is claiming that Anchorage and its sister companies, Honeywell Group Nig. Limited and Honeywell Four Mills Plc, all owned by billionaire businessman, Dr Oba Otudeko, are indebted to it.

Ecobank said Honeywell Group should be barred from accessing its funds in Zenith, Access, Citibank, Standard Chartered, Wema, Enterprise, Union, First, Skye, Sterling and Unity banks.

Others are Keystone, United Bank for Africa, Mainstreet, First City Monument, Diamond, Stanbic IBTC, Guarantee Trust, Fidelity and Ecobank.

The court had discharged interim orders made against Anchorage last October 27, but Ecobank appealed.

The bank is praying for an order of injunction restraining the respondent from having access to its funds in the banks pending the determination of the appeal.

The court had, last October 27, granted an interim injunction preserving the res (funds) pending hearing of the bank’s application for the appointment of a provisional liquidator over Anchorage’s assets.

But, Justice Jude Dagat, on March 18, discharged the orders following an application by Anchorage that the orders had expired.

Ecobank, through its lawyer Mr Kunle Ogunba (SAN) of Insolvency Forte, said the judge should not have discharged the injunction because it was to subsist until its winding-up petition was determined.“

The interim order made on October 27, 2015, was made particularly to prevent the respondent from dissipating its funds in the custody of all the banks listed.

Read also: Panic withdrawals from Fidelity over Diezani’s $115m funds

“There is urgent need to preserve the res of the appeal to avoid foisting a situation of helplessness on the Court of Appeal, superior court of record,” Ecobank said.

Ecobank said if Anchorage is not restrained, it would take advantage of the discharged interim orders to dissipate the funds, which is the subject of the winding-up petition, thus rendering the appeal nugatory.

However, Anchorage is praying the court to refuse Ecobank’s application because it would be “greatly prejudiced” if granted.

Ecobank claimed that when the “huge obligations” of the three sister companies hit N5.5billion, Otudeko had pleaded with the bank to grant them “huge concession to enable them liquidate their chronic indebtedness.”

The bank said following further negotiation, it was agreed that Otudeko’s companies would make a “bullet payment” of N3.5bilion, but they allegedly “failed to do so.“

During hearing of three of five pending applications before Justice Dagat, Ogunba said Honeywell Group was trying to avoid paying the debt. “They want to bury the fact of their indebtedness to us by engaging in subterfuge. They are throwing all spanners in the work to avoid paying the debt. As I speak, the indebtedness is over N4billion,” Ogunba said.

Anchorage, however, said it had fully liquidated its indebtedness to the bank.

Its lawyer, Olabode Olanipekun, urged the court to refuse Ogunba’s prayers.

“They have not stated how much we owe. They did not exhibit our account statement to show that we are indebted. It is the law that where there is no statement of account, a party is not entitled to any indulgence,”Olanipekun said.

Justice Dagat adjourned until June 21 for ruling.




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