Otedola, Jim Ovia Frosty Relationship: Billionaire Accuses Zenith Bank Of Siphoning Billions Of Naira From His Company Account


Billionaire businessman Femi Otedola has accused Jim Ovia, chairman of Zenith Bank, of engaging in fraudulent activities involving the bank account of his company, Seaforce Shipping Limited.

The allegations, which were first reported by TheCable and corroborated by account statements included in the online Newspapers story. See statement attached in the bottom of the article.

The statementcenter around unauthorized transactions and the creation of a fictitious loan running into billions of Naira.

The latest string of allegations follows a Premium Times report that also details other accusations labeled against Zenith Bank by Femi Otedola.

Attempts made to reach out to comments from Zenith Bank corporate communications but no response was immediately obtained.

Unauthorized Transactions

According to Otedola, Zenith Bank unlawfully utilized Seaforce Shipping’s account to conduct trading activities without his knowledge or consent. These unauthorized transactions reportedly began in 2010 and continued unabated despite the account not being operated since then.

* TheCable reports that Otedola was tipped off about these activities by a whistleblower within Zenith Bank, leading to his discovery of the fraudulent transactions.

* Otedola alleges that Zenith Bank fabricated a loan of NGN 6 billion on Seaforce Shipping’s account, which he asserts never existed.

* This alleged fictitious loan, labeled as “CP Facility,” was followed by a series of debits and credits, creating the illusion of financial activity.

* As per the account statements seen by Nairametrics, significant debits included NGN 6,000,000,000.00 on February 7, 2008, and NGN 4,475,326,935.25 on February 7, 2009, among others.

TheCable’s report highlights that these transactions were conducted without Seaforce Shipping’s authorization or awareness.

Discrepancies in Account Balances: A major point of contention is the discrepancy in the reported debt amounts.

* In a letter dated March 19, 2018, Zenith Bank informed Seaforce Shipping’s auditors, Shofolawe-Bakare & Co., that the account had a debt of only NGN 2,278,420.

* However, the bank statement reviewed by Nairametrics indicates a closing balance of NGN -5,916,704,059.13, with total debits amounting to NGN 16,927,628,581.84 and total credits of NGN 11,010,924,522.71.

Legal Actions and Investigations

In response to these revelations, Otedola has taken legal action. Seaforce Shipping, along with Zenon, Luzon Oil and Gas, Garment Care Limited, and Otedola himself, has secured a federal high court injunction against Zenith Bank, Quantum Zenith Securities and Investment, Veritas Registrar, and the Central Securities Clearing System.

* This injunction, as reported by TheCable, prevents these entities from trading shares or paying dividends until a motion for an interlocutory injunction is heard.

* Zenith Bank declared a dividend of N3.5 per share on the 8th of April 2024 and made payments a month later.

* This injunction subsists until the hearing of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction.

Additionally, the Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID) of the police is investigating the allegations. TheCable notes that senior officials of Zenith Bank have already been questioned as part of the ongoing probe.

Roots of the Dispute - Premium Times Story

An earlier report from Premium Times stated Otedola accused Zenith Bank allegedly engaging in fraudulent activities including the improper disposal of his shares, manipulation of bank accounts, and the forging of documents to obscure their actions.

* The friction between Mr. Otedola and Zenith Bank originated from claims of dishonest accounting in the calculation of his liabilities before the bank sold his multibillion-naira debt to the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).

* AMCON, a government entity, acquires non-performing loans from banks to manage and recover them.

* According to sources cited by Premium Times, Mr. Otedola sought judicial intervention and police involvement after failing to resolve the dispute through other means.

* Technical teams from Zenith Bank and Zenon Oil convened on May 20, 2024, to address the issue, but the meeting ended without resolution.

A subsequent meeting at the Lagos Oriental Hotel also failed to resolve the matter, leading to threats of new legal action from Zenon Oil.


Chris Kehinde Nwandu is the Editor In Chief of CKNNEWS || He is a Law graduate and an Alumnus of Lagos State University, Lead City University Ibadan and Nigerian Institute Of Journalism || With over 2 decades practice in Journalism, PR and Advertising, he is a member of several Professional bodies within and outside Nigeria || Member: Institute Of Chartered Arbitrators ( UK ) || Member : Institute of Chartered Mediators And Conciliation || Member : Nigerian Institute Of Public Relations || Member : Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria || Fellow : Institute of Personality Development And Customer Relationship Management || Member and Chairman Board Of Trustees: Guild Of Professional Bloggers of Nigeria

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