Who’s Afraid of Probing Keystone Bank and 9mobile acquisitions?


The imperative of foreign direct investment for the growth of the Nigerian economy cannot be over-emphasized. Nigeria used to be the first destination for foreign direct investment in Africa. However, over time, the country has been ranking low in attracting foreign investment due to a lot of factors. Corruption in government is one.
And lack of following due process, a poor reputation for upholding agreements and lack of transparency are other factors in our way of conducting business. These factors are the same issues involved in the sloppy handling of the sale of Keystone Bank and 9mobile to investors, a development that has attracted public uproar in recent times.
Although it seems the public uproar around the unholy acquisitions of Keystone Bank and 9mobile is dying down due to current electioneering activities, there is the imperative to revisit the acquisitions so as not to further frustrate foreign investors from coming to Nigeria. With the strong anti-corruption stance of the federal government, one would expect that EFCC would at least have started investigating the shady Keystone and 9mobile acquisitions by now. But it seems there is a systemic tendency to sweep matters under the carpet of politics.
So, the question is: who is afraid of probing or investigating the alleged corruption surrounding the acquisitions of public assets like Keystone Bank and 9mobile that have been under the receivership of Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON)? Right now, Nigerians are still asking questions and waiting for answers on the controversial acquisitions.
Some of these questions should help concerned anti-corruption agencies do thorough investigation and provide convincing answers on Keystone Bank and 9mobile purchases. For instance, on Keystone Bank acquisition process, these burning questions refuse to go away. Is true that AMCON placed N20Billion deposit with Nigeria’s biggest retail bank? Did the retail bank then place the alleged N20Billion deposit with Heritage Bank? After that, did Heritage Bank loan exactly N20Billion to the Funtua Group? And was it Heritage Bank that paid N20Billion to AMCON for the acquisition of Keystone Bank? Finally, did Keystone Bank borrow N20Billion from the Interbank Market which was repaid to Heritage Bank who then repaid the retail bank who finally repaid AMCON? It is obvious, going by the above questions, that AMCON used their own funds as a collateral security for the Buyer of Keystone Bank.
Meanwhile, the 9mobile case has since got worse with the recent development of the key investor, Teleology Holdings, pulling out of the acquisition. The stories have already been told of how 9mobile was shoddily acquired by the same Isa Funtua business interests that acquired Keystone, using AMCON and high-level government leverage. It was earlier reported that Teleology Holdings as a foreign investor teamed up with the Funtua Group for the acquisition of 9-Mobile. But the partnership was soon undermined when the Funtua Group deviously relegated Teleology Holdings from the management of the joint venture.
It was also in the news that the Funtua Group allegedly raided Keystone Bank to source part of the funding for the acquisition of 9-Mobile and later formed Teleology Nigeria to replace Teleology Holdings from 9-Mobile totally. With all these untoward developments, including an abortion of a management services contract that Teleology Holdings experts should have executed, it was not a surprise weeks ago that Teleology Holdings publicly announced its decision to quit the 9mobile joint venture project. The chickens have come home to roost. And many concerned parties are left wondering what a mess the acquisition situation has become. Even some banks that still have their credit funds trapped in 9mobile are rattled.
In the final analysis, the government cannot continue to cry for foreign investment while handling public assets acquisitions in a shoddy manner as in the case of Keystone Bank and 9mobile. That is why we need to treat public scandals with seriousness and sincerity of purpose. If controversies persist around AMCON and acquisitions of organizations under its receivership and questions are left unanswered, Nigerians and foreign investors might think that the anti-corruption war of the government is a dummy. Some might even think there are indeed sacred cows in our society who call pull the strings of government to have their way above national interest.

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