Agric firm reports bank to CBN over alleged freezing of account

From Okwe Obi, Abuja

An agribusiness firm, Santuscom Agro Investment Company Limited, has accused and reported SunTrust Bank, to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), over the freezing of its N300 million loan facility obtained from the Bank of Agriculture (BOI).

The firm’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Ofana Paul, said he titled the letter, ‘Complaint Against Suntrust Bank Limited For Placing An Unlawful Post No Debit/Freezing Of Our Account With Account No 0002386699 And Our Loan Facility Of 300,035,160.00 From The Bank Of Industry To Up Scale Our Rice Processing Facility In Ogoja Cross River State, and ddressed to the Director, Consumer Protection Department, CBN.

It read in part, “We hereby write to report SUNTRUST BANK LTD for unlawfully placing our account on freezing/post no debit and also disallowing us to utilize the loan facility of 300,035,160.00 availed and disbursed to us by the Bank of Industry (BOI) for the purpose of upscaling our rice processing facility in Ogoja Cross river state.

“Santuscom agro investment company limited (RC: 1439777) is an agribusiness company operating in rice cultivation, processing and packaging, for the past five years.

“Our brand Ogoja Rice has been a market leader enjoying a significant proportion (60%) market share within the rice value chain in cross river state. It is long grain, highly vitalized and 100% stone free.

“We received the money from Bank of Industry (BOI) on the 31st of December 2021 in line with the disbursement agreement between our company SANTUSCOM Agro Investment Company Limited and the Bank of Industry (BOI), the loan is specifically for the upscaling of our rice milling facility, according to the agreement contained in our offer letter dated 21st July 2020.

“The repayment on interest on our loan starts immediately the facility is disbursed and we are in defaults already from the 31st of January 2022 and risk being black listed by the Bank of Industry as a result of the unlawful post no debit/freezing of all funds in our account by SunTrust Bank.

“We have made all efforts to reach out to SunTrust bank for a possible resolution of any issues that have necessitated the bank to act in this manner, but all efforts have fallen on deaf ears, in fact, we have written to the MD of the bank to take action, but no response


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“SunTrust bank issued us with a bank guarantee and meeting all conditions including a fee of N6,225,000.00 (Six Million, Two Hundred And Twenty Five Thousand Naira) as bank guarantee fee, APG and VAT, provision of collateral documents of our property in cross river state valued at over N900,000,000 (Nine Hundred Million Naira) and also with an instruction for the bank to also consider an asset debenture of machines in our factory, all efforts to put the bank on the table to see reasons to lift the unlawful post no debit on the account has been ignored by the bank

“We hereby request for an immediate investigation and resolution to enable us to commence our business and meet our repayment obligations to the Bank of Industry (BOI).”

Paul, however, stated that his company had written through his legal team, D. O Ariku & Co to the Managing Director of SunTrust Bank, on releasing the company’s account and money but now awaiting the bank’s response.

He also demanded N50 million as damage for the alleged illegal blocking of its account with the bank, saying the action has taken an adverse toll on the company’s business fortune.

According to him, the letter was dated February 9, 2022, to the bank’s MD with the subject ‘Request to Unblock Santuscom Agro Investment Company Limited, account number 00023866699 domicile with your bank.”

It stated, “It is our brief to demand that you unblock the account immediately, and you pay the sum of N50 million Naira into the same account as damage within one week commencing from the date of receipt of this letter, failure of which we shall have no option other than to commence legal action against your bank.”

Ofana lamented further that as a result of the bank’s action that the company has lost the sum of $1.5 million in a business transaction that has been concluded for the exportation of Nigerian rice to the Gambia.