CBN investigator refuses TTB Chairman’s request to shift acquisition probe

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The Office of the Special Central Bank of Nigeria Investigator has rejected the Chairman of Titan Trust Bank Limited, Babatunde Lemo’s request to reschedule the December 28, 2023, meeting with investigators till January 7.

The investigator warned that the failure of Lemo and other major shareholders of TTB to attend Thursday’s scheduled 2 pm meeting may lead to the forfeiture of their shareholding and interests in Titan Trust Bank and Union Bank Nigeria Plc.

This was disclosed in a letter to the TTB chairman dated December 27, 2023, signed by the Head of Operations, Office of the Special Investigator, Eloho Okpoziakpo, a Deputy Commissioner of Police.

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The investigator also turned down a proposal by Lemo that the major shareholders of Titan Trust Bank, Mr Cornelius Vink and Rahul Savara, should be given seven days to prove their purported ownership of TTB and Union Bank of Nigeria or forfeit the shares to the Federal Government.

This was in response to a letter from Lemo’s lawyer seeking a shift of today’s meeting until January.

Skyblast tv recalls that two days ago, the Special Investigator probing the Central Bank of Nigeria, Jim Obazee, had summoned Lemo, a former deputy governor of CBN, concerning the acquisition of Union Bank of Nigeria Plc by TTB.

The TTB chairman was directed to report to the Department of Force Intelligence opposite the Force headquarters, Shehu Shagari Way, Abuja, on Thursday (today), where he will be grilled by a team of detectives probing the UBN acquisition.

Lemo was further instructed to come along with Vink and Savara to meet with the team of special investigators.

Obazee had, in his investigation interim report, fingered some persons who were used as proxies by a former CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, to set up Titan Trust Bank and acquire Union Bank, all from ill-gotten wealth.

Consequently, the investigative team summoned the top management of TTB over the indictment.

However, in a letter by his lawyer, G. Elias, Lemo, dated December 27, requested a shift of the meeting with investigators as he was away from Nigeria.

The letter, which Prof. Gbolahan Elias, SAN signed, read in part, “Unfortunately, both Mr Tunde Lemo and the two largest ultimate investors in the banks (Mr. Cornelius Vink; Mr. Rahul Savara) are away from Nigeria at the moment 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 fully soon after they come in”.

However, the special investigator rejected Lemo’s request, describing it as an obstruction of investigation.

In a letter, it noted, “Reference is made to the law firm of G.ELIAS letter dated December 27 2023, in response to the Special Investigator’s invitation to you via a letter with reference number CR:3000/TSI/ABJ/VOL.1/69 dated December 24 2023.

“I am directed to inform you that the Special Investigator is fully aware that you are in the United Kingdom to celebrate your birthday. This you made aware to the Special Investigator when you agreed to attend a meeting to be scheduled for December 28 2023, and also proposed that Mr Cornelius Vink and Rahul Savara be given seven days to prove their purported ownership of Titan Trust Bank and Union Bank of Nigeria or forfeit the shares to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“Accordingly, this excuse given by your good selves through your lawyers is unacceptable and regarded as obstruction of the Special Investigator in his duties.

“We want to put it on record that neither you (Babatunde Lemo), Cornelius Vink, or Rahul Savara ever submitted any of these requested documents to the investigating team at the Department of State Service or anywhere else before now.

“In fact, Cornelius Vink and Rahul Savara have never presented themselves to the Special Investigator since August 28 2023, when they were first invited for interview.”

The Special Investigator informed the TTB chairman that documents submitted through proxies will not be accepted “as Mr Cornelius Vink, Mr Rahul Savara and your good self will be required to speak to whatever document(s)/information you present during the meeting.”

The letter added, “Consequently, I am to further inform you that your invitation to appear before the Special Investigator on December 28 2023, by 2 pm prompts in respect to the matter under investigation and for which you had earlier made a statement.

“Kindly note that the conditions on paragraphs 6 to 8 in our earlier letter to you with reference number CR:3000/TSI/ABJ/VOL. 1/69 dated December 24 2023, remain effective and shall be triggered if you or Messrs Vink and Savara fail to attend the meeting as scheduled.”

Skyblast tv recalls Obazee, appointed as a special investigator by President Bola Tinubu to probe CBN and related entities in July 2023, submitted his final report tagged, ‘Report of the Special Investigation on CBN and Related Entities (Chargeable offences)’ to the Presidency on December 20.

The report, among other revelations, faulted the acquisition of UBN and Keystone Bank; it also revealed that Emefiele used proxies to acquire Keystone Bank without evidence of payment.

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