Jim Obazee, the Special Investigator of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has summoned Titan Trust Bank Chairman Babatunde Lemo to appear before him to interview him about the bank’s purchase of Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, which occurred not long ago in Nigeria’s banking sector.
Lemo, a former CBN deputy governor, is required to make an appearance in Abuja on Thursday, December 28, at the Department of Force Intelligence. The details of the purchase of Union Bank are at the heart of the investigation. Also appearing with the investigation team will be Lemo and the bank’s promoters, Rahul Savara and Cornelius Vink.
The Nation has learned that Lemo was formally summoned by the chief of operations of the special investigator’s office in a letter dated December 24, 2023. A special investigator’s investigation said that Godwin Emefiele, a former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), may have utilized proxies to set up Titan Trust Bank and make the acquisition of Union Bank possible, and the letter cited this report.
Report of the Special Investigation into CBN and Related Entities (Chargeable offenses)” was the exhaustive investigation report that Obazee, who was appointed in July 2023, presented to the Presidency on December 20, 2023. The allegations regarding Emefiele’s proxy involvement in these purchases were highlighted in this report and another that was delivered to President Bola Tinubu; both reports focused on the acquisition of Keystone Bank.
As part of his case, Lemo argued that all necessary regulatory approvals were obtained before Titan Trust Bank was established and after it acquired Union Bank. He went on to say that the processes were entirely in line with what was required by the authorities.
A letter marked ‘RE: CBN investigative activities: Invitation for a follow-up meeting with the Special Investigator.’ was issued by the special investigator in response to Lemo’s defense and in pursuit of additional investigation into the Union Bank agreement. Lemo suggested inviting Vink and Savara to clarify their shareholdings in an email he wrote to the investigator, and this letter cited his public remarks as well. A contradiction between Lemo’s public defense and remarks made while under caution was brought to light in the letter.
The letter further mentioned that in August 2023, when Vink was out of the country for medical reasons, Union Bank’s Company Secretary Somuyiwa Sonubi informed us that Savara and Vink were unavailable.
As the financial sector eagerly anticipates more results from the current inquiry, the situation is being closely watched.