By George Enahoro
Shocking revelations have emerged on how Keystone Bank Plc and 9Mobile were acquired by Alhaji Ismaila Isa Funtua, a chairman of Bulet Nigeria Limited and in-law to President Muhammadu Buhari.
The controversial acquisition, according to informed sources, was made possible with the active involvement of the Managing Director of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) using the instrumentality of Corporation.
Sources who confided on Gaskiyanews.com.ng said that the deal was facilitated by the current CEO of AMCON Ahmed Kuru, a son-in-law of Isa Funtua.
The source recalled that Kuru replaced Chike Obi, a first-class gentleman and technocrat who was removed from office before the expiration of his term.
Our Sources further revealed that Isa Funtua bought Keystone Bank and 9Mobile in the wackiest of dealings that circumvents the laws of the land.
“Keystone Bank was sold by the current CEO of AMCON to his father-in-law, Funtua, without any AMCON Board’s approval and with the active connivance of CBN and NDIC at a grossly undervalued price of 25 Billion Naira.
“To put things in context, let us recall that Enterprise Bank was sold for over 60 Billion Naira and Mainstreet Bank was sold for over 100 Billion Naira under the former CEO of AMCON
“Before the sale of Keystone Bank to Isa Funtua, all bad debts in the books of the Bank were taken over by AMCON. So, it was a clean Bank with all the Assets and no Liabilities that was sold to the Buyers.
“The Executive Management of AMCON was coerced into approving the transaction and those who were willing to submit a much higher bid were disqualified under a most opaque, suspicious process that lacks all transparency, the source lamented.
Explaining further, the source said the most disgusting part of the deal is how AMCON used its own funds as collateral for a loan of 20 Billion Naira to the Funtua Group. ”
The Isa Funtua Team then paid 5 Billion Naira to AMCON, and then the balance of 20 Billion Naira was later paid through the most criminal and corrupt approach ever perpetrated by AMCON in favour of the Buyer. What happened was that AMCON moved 20 Billion Naira of their own funds as a fixed deposit at GTBank to Heritage Bank.
“Heritage Bank then paid the 20 Billion Naira on behalf of the Funtua Group to AMCON,” our Source said.
He posited that: “When the Funtua Group took over the Bank, they went borrowing immediately at the Interbank Market for 20 Billion Naira to refund AMCON’s funds. This has left a hole in Keystone Bank’s Balance Sheet and makes the Bank one of the most undercapitalized Banks in the Country as at today.
“The evidence of this highly compromised acquisition process can be obtained from the current and former staff of AMCON, from NDIC, CBN and from the current staff of Keystone Bank itself.”
Similarly the 9Mobile acquisition is believed to be another major scandal that was untidy and devoid of any transparent process.
9Mobile, formerly known as Etisalat, was bought through Mr. Adrian Wood of Teleology Holdings, a very sound telecoms professional, who collaborated with the Funtua Group for the acquisition of the telecommunication firm.
The problem with their bid was the lack of a qualified Operator to support the bid which was one of the minimum conditions of NCC. Adrian Wood alone was not a substitute for an Operator.
According to a source, “The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), a government regulatory agency gave several conditions that must be met by the Ultimate Buyer of 9-Mobile to ensure the protection of shareholders value, prevent loss of jobs, protect the telecoms industry from slipping into a crisis and ensure transparency and professionalism in the post-acquisition entity.
“The conditions listed by NCC that must be met by the Buyer are Strong Telecoms Operating Experience, Strong Financial Capabilities, Strong Technical Knowledge and Strong Administrative Skills.
“The first thing that happened once Teleology was announced as the preferred winner was that the Funtua Group edged Adrian Woods out of Management and turned him to an Insignificant Shareholder.
“The second development was that the Funtua Group raided Keystone Bank again and forced the Bank to Pay 50 million Dollars as down payment for the acquisition of 9-Mobile. The third issue was that Teleology Nigeria replaced Teleology Holdings to remove any influence of Adrian Woods from 9-Mobile totally.
“The fourth step taken by the Funtua Group was to borrow 260 Million Dollars from African Exim Bank. The fifth thing was to coerce NCC to approve the sale at all cost without meeting 90% of the conditions set up ab-initio by the NCC.
“The sixth strange action of the Funtua Group was to force the board of NCC to approve the sale through the influence and pressure from the Presidency.
“And the seventh Funtua infraction was to use the influence of CBN to force the Banks to the table and waive their own conditions of sale of 9-Mobile to the Teleology Nigeria group,” our Sources maintained.
Isa Funtua, along with the of Staff to the President, Malam Abba Kyari have been involved in round tripping of CBN foreign exchange. They singlehandedly secured tenure elongation for CBN Governor Godwin Emeifele.
When President Muhammadu Buhari, in the early days of his administration snubbed the CBN governor for gate crashed into his official activities during the United Nation General Assembly UNGA in September 2015, it was Isa Funtua and Abba Kyari that assured the President that Emefiele is a competent technocrat.