Access Bank wins $1bn case against ex-chief

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Erastus Akingbola

Erastus Akingbola

Nigeria’s Access Bank has won an order for repayment of more than $1 billion in a fraud case in London’s High Court against a former executive of a bank it took over, according to a court document seen by Reuters on Wednesday.

Access Bank charged Erastus Akingbola, the former managing director of rescued lender Intercontinental Bank which it bought last year. The judgement was handed down by Justice Burton on Tuesday.

Access shares were trading flat on Wednesday.

Intercontinental, then one of Nigeria’s largest banks, was one of nine lenders bailed out by the central bank in 2009, when Akingbola was removed from his post.

The judge ruled that Akingbola and his counterparts owed Access 145 billion naira ($902.58 million) due to illegal dealing in Intercontinental Bank shares and 16 billion naira in payments made by the bank to Tropics Group, companies in which Akingbola had an interest, Burton said.

Akingbola denied any wrongdoing.

“The claimant’s case is proved,” Burton’s judgement said.

“As the Tropics Payments Claim is concerned, and as for his strategy for the company to buy its own shares … quite apart from being contrary to Nigerian law, it was simply wrong-headed, and was plainly a substantial contributing factor to the collapse of the bank,” Burton added.

Akingobola has already submitted $9 million to the court from property he bought with the bank’s money but later sold, the judgement said.

($1 = 160.6500 Nigerian nairas)

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