INNOSON VS GTB: Detailed Analysis Of The Saga Between Innoson Motors and GTBank/EFCC.......

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The issue of the case between innoson motors and GTBank with other parties like the IGP, AGF and EFCC is interestingly complicated. Reason why it might be confusing to many. My aim therefore today is to state the facts according to publicly available time-lines.


In summary, there are 5 different cases and I will divide the thread into 3 segments each with its own unique time-line. Stay with me, this will be long

1. Innoson Vs Customs & GTBank - Issue of auction of seized goods by Customs 2003 The relationship between GTBank and Innoson Started sometime in 2003

2004 Between October and December 2004, Innoson imported about 25 containers of Motorcycle CKDs, According to Innoson, it had obtained a concession certificate which allowed it to import at 5% duty. This certificate was to expire in July 2005. 

Duty was paid by GTBank and receipt issue. But Customs refused to release his goods because of the existence of a circular removing Innoson from the list of companies enjoying such concessions.

2005 Innoson appealed to the Minister of Finance who approved that Innoson should be allowed to clear their goods with the concession certificate. Documents where re-submitted for clearance and approval came in Feb 2006

2006 In Mar 2006, the goods could no longer be found as Customs had already auctioned 18 out of 25 containers. Between Mar & May 2006 there were efforts to resolve the issue betw Innoson, Min of Finance, Presidential Special Committee on Port Decongestion & Customs. #InnosonVsGTB

During this period, the remaining 7 containers were auctioned off by Customs. Innoson then took the Customs to court (Suit FHC/L/CS/603/2006) 2011 The trial court in July 2011 therefore ordered the Custom to pay Innoson the sum of N2.4B being damages incurred. 

Innoson got a garnishee order from the Court ordering GTB to pay the judgment debt of N2.4B. GTB decided to appeal the court ruling on the garnishee to the Court of Appeal, Ibadan Division. Why GTBank appealed the order (and not Customs) is note worthy.

More
2014 In a unanimous judgment, delivered on 6th Feb 2014, the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal and affirmed the judgment of the trial Court and ordered the GTBank to pay the said sum of N2.4B to Innoson. GTBank appealed to the SC. The SC is yet to give judgment

2. Innoson Vs GTBank - Issue of Excess Charges on Innoson Account 2010 The fact they Innoson and GTB has this on-going court case concerning the custom sale of containers did not stop both organisations from doing business. 

It appears at some point that the bank gave Innoson a N2.4 Billion facility later restructured into a 3 year term loan facility to finance its motorcycle’s CKD import business. Remember this figure because it will be relevant several years later.

2012 Innoson discovered strange charges in their account and decided to do an audit. The audit revealed that GTBank has over-charged it to the tune of N786m over the course of several years dating back to 2004.

Innoson wrote to the bank and not surprisingly, the bank did not accept to refund the charges. Innoson sued GTBank for refund of the excess charges. This is the second suit between Innoson and GTBank.

2013 In May 2013, Justice Salihu granted Innoson the sum of N559,374,072.09 against the bank, “with a 22 percent interest on the admitted sum to be paid from March 1, 2004 and at the same rate of 22 percent till satisfaction of the judgment debt. 

It also added a 100% penalty as stipulated in the CBN Guidelines (Many people don’t know this penalty exist for excess charges by banks – But this is a conversation for another day). This brought the total judgement cost to N4.7B against GTBank. GTBank Appealed.

2014 In Sept 2014, GTBank secured an ex parte order on Innoson Nigeria Limited Basically freezing their accounts. “All commercial banks in Nigeria were restrained from accepting, honouring, or giving effect in any manner whatsoever to any instruction by Innoson ..."

On December 9, 2014, the Court of Appeal upheld the judgement of the FHC and ordered GTBank to pay its debt to Innoson into an interest-yielding account operated by the court. By then, the debt had accumulated to over N6 billion. 

*If you add the previous judgement of N2.4B GTBank was already indebted as per Judgment cost to the tune of over N8.5B in 2014. GTBank in its numerous affidavits deposed that if it pays the outstanding judgment debt of N6B, it could go bankrupt & be out of business.

GTBank then appealed to the SC as well. Making this the second case between Innoson and GTBank at the SC awaiting judgment. 2015 In June 2015, the FHC, Lagos struck out the ex parte order freezing the bank accounts of the companies in Innoson Group. 

Innoson then slammed a N30 billion suit on the bank for what it had suffered in monetary terms and reputational terms during the months when the accounts of its companies in all Nigerian banks were frozen. This is the fourth case between Innoson and GTBank

3. IGP Vs Innoson – Issue of Criminal Charge of Forgery against Innoson and 5 others. 2015 GTBank filed a petition to the IGP alleging that Innocent Chukwuma and 5 others (including Innoson and Mitsui OSK Lines) criminally conspired to commit forgery. 

GTBank alleged that Innoson + 5 criminally conspired to falsify shipping documents between Jan 2010 and April 2011 at the Apapa Wharf. The documents of which was used to obtain a N2.4B loan from GTBank. (Recall the N2.4B facility referenced earlier in this thread?) 

This led to the suit No: FHC/L/565C/2015 by the police prosecutor against the 6 accused. 2016 In February 2016, the police withdrew the charge against the accused based on its need to further investigate the case. It seems the DPP is not aware of this withdrawal.

In May 2016, the AGF approached the court to take over the case. This application was granted. This is where it gets messy. It seem the prosecutor in the IGP office did not inform the court that they already withdrew the charges before the DPP took over

The EFCC invitation to Innocent Chukwuma appears to be in connection to the investigation of this GTB petition and subsequent suit by the IGP. According to the EFCC, he jumped an administrative bail. If that is true, it suggests he had already been interviewed

Conclusion I know we love drama and nothing can trump the drama of an arrest in the residence of a popular industrialist in the midst of his employees. But the facts of this case is bigger and judging from the time frame has detailed in this thread. 

While we can say absolutely that GTBank is not directly involved in his arrest, we can infer that its petition is the basis on which Mr. Innocent Chukwuma is being currently investigated. So the bank is somewhat connected to it indirectly.

If the evidence of all the numerous court cases won by Innoson is anything to go by, I'm convinced that he will win this too. In the meanwhile, it's better for us to be informed before taking a position either way. I hope this thread has helped towards that. Thanks

Allow me to add to this thread a little. I want to speak specifically to the issue of the "forgery" charge against Innocent Chukwuma and 5 others. To be very clear, this issue is SERIOUS and he would need to take it seriously. Allow me to explain what I mean.

Now depending on who you believe, there are claims and counter claims on this issue of "forgery". But the devil is in the detail. What you need to know is that this dates back to transactions in 2010/2011. It is all procedural but you need to follow me closely.

Let's start with what we can deduce from court docs & Innoson Statement GTBank Claims - Granted Innoson N2.4B Loan to import motocycles - Establishes different LCs IFO of Innoson under this facility - It reserved propriety interest until a % of value of LC is paid

GTB Claims - Original Bill of Laden (still with bank) was basically security for loan. - Innoson cleared the goods with bank endorsement forged on the BoL - The bank then referred the case to the Police who commenced investigation and charged the men for forgery. 

Innoson Claims - GTBank never gave a loan of N2.4B. Only loan they got was N1.3B which has been fully repaid - BoL couldn't have been security for loan since it is released at the point of shipment when payment must have been made or guaranteed.

Innoson Claim - GTBank paid the duty for the goods without which it would be impossible to clear it. - GTBank released the original BoL to Innoson. - After clearing, Innoson returned to GTBank the relevant exchange rate documents for onward transmission to the CBN.

If you are somehow confused about how international payment works. Check out if you can make sense of the infrographic attached. If not, then just follow my simple explanations. To save our time, let me just concentrate on the role of the Bill of Laden.

Letter of credit is one of the international payment terms. After completion of export formalities at customs, the seller collects original BoL from carrier. The said original BoL along with other shipping docs are submitted along with the LC to the seller's bank

After satisfying the T/C of LC, the seller's bank negotiate docs and sends to the buyers bank. The buyer’s bank notifies buyer & instructs him to accept docs. Buyer accepts & makes to clear goods. He surrenders Original BoL with carrier and takes delivery of goods

The point is, without Original bill of lading, the buyer can not take delivery of goods. The buyers bank delivers original BoL only after receiving the export proceeds (value of goods shipped or percentage of value of goods agreed).

So do you see why the Original Bill of Laden is very important to this forgery case? It seems like both GTBank and Innoson are claiming to possess two separate ORIGINAL BILL OF LADENS. This case basically rest on who is able to prove "the one I have is original".

At the onset, it seems that the police believed GTBank as per it's petition of 2013. It was probably at this point that the EFCC got involved. But it is instructive that the police did not charge Mr. Innocent until 2015. A charge it withdrew in Feb 2016.

Innoson in the meanwhile had made several attempts since 2014 to stop the IGP investigation. But in Sept 2017, the Court of Appeal, dismissed the motion for being unmeritorious & ordered that proceeding in the criminal case (of forgery) against Innoson shd proceed.

What we now know is that on October 12, 2017, the Police through its Charge No. FHC/L/565C/2015 (now handled by the DPP) - filed an application for the issuance of bench warrant against Innocent Chukwuma and others. This was adjourned to the 8th Dec 2017.

It is possible that the recent arrest by the EFCC is linked with this development. One thing is clear though, this case is not going away and Mr. Innocent Chukwuma will still need to clear his name in court against this forgery charge

Let me say a few words on the claims of both parties. If you analyse both claims, one would be able to make the following deductions. - There was a loan. Whether it is N2.4B or N1.3B is a different issue. - For Innoson to import, GTB must have opened LC IFO Innoson

There is no way Innoson could have cleared the goods without duty payment which follows after assessment notice after Pre Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) has been issued. To get the PAAR, you need the Original BoL. Question is - "Did GTBank process the PAAR?

One thing is clear here. There is more to this story than we read. At best it looks like a bad case of disagreement over indebtedness with each side trying to gain leverage. At worse it may reveal a case of conspiracy of importer, bank & customs to defraud the FGN.

Stayed Tuned. 

The EFCC just tweeted that Innosen was arrested and released on alleged suspicion of forgery to obtain Tax Waiver. This brings a whole new dimension to it. It appears this is a new accusation diff from the case of forgery of BL. This is getting very interesting

Special Credit To Yinka Ogunnubi

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