20 February 2013

Nigeria: N13.5 Billion Debt - Babalakin, Amcon Open Talks

Lagos — Roygate Properties Limited (owned by businessman-lawyer, Wale Babalakin) and the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) have commenced talks aimed at ensuring an out-of-court settlement of the dispute between the two parties over N13.5billion debt allegedly owed by Roygate.

Officials of the Federal High Court, Lagos had, in execution of an order by Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of the court sealed off a property located on 43A, Afribank Street, Victoria Island on February 8.

The property was said to have been pledged by the company in tripartite legal mortgage registered on October 14, 2010 between Roygate (the borower) , Stabilini Visioni Limited (surety/mortgagor) and Guaranty Trust Bank (the lender). AMCON later acquired the loan.

In the order made ex-parte on February 5, Justice restrained Roygate, its directors, subsidiaries and sister companies from transferring or dealing with any of its funds in 20 banks listed in the application, or anywhere else up to the N13.5billion allegedly owed by the company.

He also restrained the banks from allowing Roygate "operate any bank accounts" held by it in the banks and fixed yesterday as the return date.

When parties and the affected banks returned to court yesterday, lawyers to Roygate and AMCON, Olawale Akoni (SAN) and Adebola Sobowale told the court that talks were on to ensure amicable settlement of the dispute.

Akoni told the court that he received a call from his client, before entering the court, to the effect that "talk is going on between parties."

He said he had told AMCON's lawyer about the development and sought an adjournment.

Sobowale confirmed the development. He told the court that he had confirmed that information about the on-going talks by parties from his client. He agreed to a short adjournment.

The court refused request by lawyers representing the banks to be excused from further proceedings. They had sought to be excused on the ground that having filed reruns, as ordered by the court, those without banking relationship with Roygate should be allowed to go.

But AMCON's Head, Corporate Communication, Kayode Lambo, said Roygate may have approached the corporation, indicating its willingness to commence settlement negotiation but that it has not officially communicated to the corporation.

Justice Aneke has however adjourned the case to February 28 for arties to either report settlement or argue on which of the pending applications should be heard first.

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