CBN investigator summons Lemo, others over Union Bank acquisition

Babatunde Lemo

The chairman of Titan Trust Bank (TTB), Babatunde Lemo, has been summoned by the Special CBN Investigator, Jim Obazee in connection with the acquisition of Union Bank of Nigeria Plc by TTB.

Lemo, a former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, was directed to appear at the Department of Force Intelligence in Abuja on Thursday, December 28 where he would be questioned over the UBN acquisition.

The TTB chairman was also instructed to come along with the promoters of the bank, Messrs Cornelius Vink and Mr Rahul Savara, to meet with the team of special Investigators.

The Telegraph gathered that Lemo was invited in a letter dated December 24, 2023, and signed by the head of operations, office of the special investigator.

The special investigator had in his report alleged that some persons were used as proxies by a former CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, to set up Titan Trust Bank and acquire Union Bank.

Obazee, who was appointed special investigator in July 2023, submitted his final report tagged, ‘Report of the Special Investigation on CBN and Related Entities (Chargeable offences) to the Presidency on December 20, 2023.

In two separate reports on the acquisition of UBN and Keystone Bank submitted to President Bola Tinubu last Wednesday, the Special Investigator also alleged that Emefiele used proxies to acquire Keystone Bank without evidence of payment, the Special Investigator, DCP Eloho Okpoziakpo.

However, Lemo insisted that the establishment of TTB and the subsequent acquisition of Union Bank were transparent and duly verified by the relevant regulatory bodies.

In furtherance of the investigation into the UBN deal, and in response to Lemo’s defence, the investigator in the letter titled, ‘RE: CBN investigation activities: Invitation for a follow-up meeting with the Special Investigator,’ took the TTB chairman to task on his defence.

The letter read in part: ‘’Please, refer to your discussion with the Special Investigator earlier today regarding the offensive defence that your good self issued in PUNCH newspapers, on behalf of TTB which you chair, as well as the email you sent to the Special Investigator today wherein you tried to provide clarification on your reaction to the report on TTB.

‘’The defence seems contrary to the statements, made under caution, by the persons connected with these transactions, including your good self, before the Special Investigator at the Department of State Service in August 2023.

‘’In the said newspapers, you referred to both Cornelius Vink and Rahul Savara as “prominent global entrepreneurs and having thriving businesses in Nigeria…”

‘’In your email as well as your earlier discussion with the Special Investigator, you suggested that both of them be invited to provide clarification on their share ownership and given seven days to make such clarification; failure which they will forfeit their shares to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

‘’We are surprised at your request with regard to these two shareholders. They were given this opportunity via a letter to them dated 28th August 2023 (copy attached as Appendix 1).

‘’Instead of honouring the invitation and providing the requested documents, we received a letter from the Company Secretary of Union Bank, Somuyiwa Sonubi, dated 1st September 2023, informing the Special Investigator that Mr. Cornelius Vink was out of the country on medical grounds and that both “Messrs Vink and Savara will be available for the meeting as soon as they are in Nigeria which will be soon” (copy attached as Appendix 2).

‘’Up until this offensive defence that you put in the public domain, the Special Investigator has neither heard from them nor received the requested documents.”