Alleged N17bn debt: Court hears contempt suit against Afex Exchange Directors, July 8

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has adjourned till July 8, 2024, hearing of all pending applications in a contempt suit initiated by the Guarantee Trust Bank Limited against the Directors of the Afex Exchange Commodities Limited over alleged N17, 808, 452, 467. 107 billion loan indebtedness.

Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke adjourned the matter following arguments by counsel to the plaintiff, Mr. Ade Adedeji, SAN and counsel to the respondent/defendant, Prof. Wale Olawoyin, SAN.

Guarantee Trust Bank Limited who is a plaintiff in the suit marked FHC/L/CS/911/2024 had filed a contempt charge against the respondents, Afex Exchange Commodities Limited and it’s five Directors over alleged indebtedness.

The alleged contemnors are; Ayodeji Balogun, Jendayi Fraaser, Justin Lee Topilow, Mobolaji Adeoye, and Koonal Ghandi.

However, at the resume hearing of proceedings on Thursday, counsel to the plaintiff, Adedeji urged the court to discharge 19 banks who have shown cause that the alleged debtor has no account with them.

Accordingly, Justice Aneke struck out names of Citi Bank, Fidelity Bank Plc, Wema Bank, Standard Trust Bank, Union Bank of Nigeria, Keystone Bank, Signature Bank, Titan Trust Bank, Unity Bank, Parallex Bank.

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Others are, Jaiz Bank PLC, Lotus Bank Limited, Providus Bank Plc, Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria, Suntrust Bank Limited, and Polaris Bank Limited, Eco Bank, Heritage Bank Plc and Unity Bank Plc.

Adedeji then urged the court to proceed with contempt proceedings against Directors of the Afex Exchange Commodities Limited.

But, counsel to the alleged contemnors, Prof. Olawoyin objected, adding that there was no competent contempt proceedings before the court.

Olawoyin informed the court that two of the Directors cited for contempt, Ayodeji Balogun, and Mobolaji Adeoye are in court.

He further told the court that others cited for contempt namely, Jendayi Fraaser, Justin Lee Topilow, and Koonal Bharat Ghandi are foreigners and were no longer Directors of Afex Exchange Commodities Limited.

Olawoyin submitted a deligent search of Afex Exchange Commodities Limited directors at the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC revealed that some of the people cited for contempt have resigned from the company several years ago.

The judge subsequently adjourned further hearing in the suit to July 8 for hearing of all pending applications.

Recall, that a motion ex parte was granted on June 20, directing 13 Commercial Banks and Money Deposit Banks to provide a detailed Statement of Account of the Defendant/Respondent company for the past three months i.e., up and until May 27, 2024.

The banks are, Access Bank Plc, Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, Fidelity Bank Plc, First Bank of Nigeria Plc, First City Monument Bank Plc, Polaris Bank Limited 7. Stanbic Ibtc Bank Plc, Sterling Bank Plc, TAJ Bank Limited, United Bank for Africa Plc, Zenith Bank Plc, Optimus Bank Limited, and FBNQuest Merchant Bank.

The order reads “That an order is hereby made directing the Commercial Banks and Money Deposit Banks herein enumerated as 1st — 13th Respondents Banks, in line with the Orders of this Honourable Court dated 27th May, 2024 and 10th June, 2024, to provide a detailed Statement of Account of the Defendant/Respondent company for the past three months i.e., up and until May 27, 2024.

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“That an order is hereby made compelling the 1st -13th respondent Banks to file a comprehensive statement of account of the defendant/respondent’s transactions for the past three months up and until the date of the order dated May 27, 2024, with a Certificate of Identification, in compliance with Section 84 of the Evidence Act 2011.

“That an order is hereby made mandating the Commercial Banks and Money Deposit Banks herein enumerated as 1st -13th respondent banks to comply with all applicable ‘ Statutory requirements when providing financial records, to ensure the authenticity and accuracy of such records in line with the guidelines stipulated by the Central Bank of Nigeria and other Regulatory Bodies.

On May 27, Justice Aneke had granted an interim Global Standing Instruction, GSI, injunctive relief, following an application by Chief Aribisala on behalf of GTB.

GSI was created as a last resort for banks and financial institutions to recover outstanding loans from chronic debtors.

The court also granted a “Pre-judgment interest on the N15,766,475,417.06 at the prevailing rediscounted rate of 28 per cent yearly, as approved by the CBN from April 18, 2024, when the Plaintiff’s letter of demand dated April 17, 2024, was delivered to the defendant, until judgment is delivered in this suit.

“Post-judgment interest on the said sum of N15,766,475,417.06 and cost of recovery and incidental expenses in the sum of N2,041,977,050.047.”

The court further granted a mandatory injunction commanding the defendant/respondent to allow the plaintiff to appoint its appointed agent to take over the commodities/produce stored by the defendant in the 16 warehouses across the seven states.

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