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Fraud: Femi Otedola accuses Jim Ovia of using his company for secret stock market transactions

The ongoing clash between Femi Otedola, a renowned billionaire businessman, and Jim Ovia, the chairman of Zenith Bank, has escalated following allegations of a multibillion-naira fraud.

Otedola accused Zenith Bank of unlawfully utilising the account of his company, Seaforce Shipping Limited, for trading purposes in 2011 without his knowledge or consent.

Despite ongoing investigations by the Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID) of the police, attempts are being made to seek an amicable resolution.

Unauthorised trading amounting to billions of naira continued without Otedola’s awareness, despite Seaforce Shipping’s account not being operational since 2010.

The company allegedly never applied for nor received a loan from Zenith Bank, yet the account was being used for trading activities, TheCable reported.

When requested to provide documentation, including offer letters supporting the alleged loans, Zenith Bank reportedly failed to do so.

Otedola only became aware of the suspicious activities 13 years after the transactions, following a tip-off by a whistleblower within Zenith Bank. Upon confrontation, bank officials offered apologies.

The billionaire reportedly presented a letter dated March 19, 2018, from Zenith Bank to Seaforce’s auditors, indicating a debt of N2,278,420 on the account, contrasting sharply with the N5 billion recorded in the bank statement.

Transactions totalling over N16 billion were recorded against Seaforce’s account from 2011 to 2024, raising questions about the legitimacy of these transactions.

Otedola questioned the origin of payments that reduced the purported debt from over N16 billion to N11 billion, as he claimed ignorance of these transactions. Notable credits were recorded in April and December 2011, contributing to Seaforce’s current debt of N5.9 billion, including significant interest charges.

The payments included credits of N77,169,375.00 on April 18, 2011, N119,822,762.50 on December 1, 2011, N316,537,329.30 on December 8, 2011, N266,361,181.73 on December 15, 2011, and N444,304,524.50 on December 12, 2011. Consequently, Seaforce now has a debt of N5,916,704,059.13, a significant portion of which is due to interest charges.

A senior bank official has been questioned by the police in connection with these transactions.

Meanwhile, in response to the alleged fraud, Zenon, Seaforce, Luzon Oil and Gas, Garment Care Limited, and Otedola obtained a federal high court injunction against Zenith Bank and related entities.

This injunction prohibits trading with shares or paying dividends until the hearing of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction.

 

See documents released below:

Credit: TheCable

Samuel Bolaji

Samuel Bolaji holds a Master of Letters in Publishing Studies from the University of Stirling, Scotland, United Kingdom, and a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Lagos, Nigeria. He is an experienced researcher, multimedia journalist, writer, and Editor. He is currently the Editor of Arbiterz.

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