The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria has established that the top 20 debtors who owe over 67 per cent of the N5tn debt to AMCON have the wherewithal to pay but have intentionally refused to clear their debts.
According to the corporation, the debtors believe that the funds in their possession are part of their “national cake”. The firm also said that it was working hard to get court approvals to take over some of the assets of the defaulters. The Chairman, AMCON, Muiz Banire, recently revealed that the corporation’s top 20 debtors owe 67 per cent of the N5tn debt owed his firm.
Head of Corporate Affairs, AMCON, Jude Nwauzor, told our correspondent on Friday that the organisation had established that the major debtors did not want to pay. He said, “These 20 persons owe almost N4tn. We have several thousand accounts in our kitty and just like when you do your scale of preference, when we arrange it, there are top 20, 50, 100, and it moves on in that order.
“So what the chairman of AMCON talked about was that if we are able to resolve these 20, we would have done over 60 per cent of the total obligation, which, of course, is massive. “We can only imagine what N5tn can do to a country where the government is borrowing to fund the budget. “There are individuals in this country who hold on to this money and it is not that they don’t have the wherewithal to pay, but they just don’t want to pay because for them, it is national cake. But this is taxpayers’ money. Some workers have died because of these people. Some institutions have been crippled because of them. The economy is also suffering because of them.”
On why the corporation had not fully gone public to announce the debtors, Nwauzor stated that it was because some of them had cases with AMCON in court. He said, “We are not just trying to identify these people; they are people we know and on several occasions, our chairman had at one point or the other mentioned their names. “Most of these obligors are also in court with us, which is why you can’t just go out to reel out names, especially when you have a case that is before a court of competent jurisdiction.
“So, it is not that we are trying to shield the names, we know them but we need to be careful how we mention them, especially when they are undergoing hearings from the court.” Nwauzor further explained that AMCON does not just take over an entity if it had not exhausted all avenues of peaceful resolution. He said, “Some of these cases have been on for over five, seven years, and others since the inception of AMCON in 2010.
“So when you have exhausted all those options and the obligor or debtor is not bulging, then you seek redress in court and the court gives us the order to enforce on the asset of the obligor. “It is through that court order that we’ll take over companies or to freeze the person’s account or assets. So it is not always cash; sometimes it comes in the form of cash, while other times it comes in the form of assets.” On whether AMCON had received court approvals to go after the assets or cash of the top 20 defaulters, he replied, “Taking over a business or asset via the court is a process. It is not something that happens in one week or one year. But the court has been very helpful in this recovery effort, especially the Federal High Court.” Punch