First Bank

Friday, July 21, 2023

Things Get Tougher For Eco Bank CEO, Bolaji Lawal

The job of Bolaji Lawal, the Bank Chief Executive Officer earnestly looking forward to prove his mettle has gotten tougher

From eyeing N13.5Billion payout to boost operations, the financial institution he oversees is now staring at a N72.2 Billion debt.

That is the story of the Chief Executive Officer at Eco Bank.

Lawal officially took up the career defining appointment as Chief Executive Officer at the Bank whose official name is Ecobank Transnational Inc (ETI) on March 1, 2022 after missing out of becoming the Managing Director at Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank).the previous year. 

The Eco Bank job was touted as the perfect opportunity to show his former employers they were wrong in letting him go.

But life has thrown a major stumbling block to what was about to be a quick start with N72.2billion damages in favor of Honeywell Flour Mills Plc (HFMP). 

The judgement is a recompense for the huge loss HFMP suffered with  ex-parte order Eco Bank secured against its operation while seeking to recover a disputed loan.

The ex-parte order – motions for orders that can be granted without waiting for a response from the other side – freezed the assets of Honeywell Flour Mills as part of efforts by Eco Bank to force recovery of the disputed loan.

The development resulted in significant loss for HFMP, its takeholders as well as the direct and indirect dependants on it operations – including what is termed “incalculable perception on credit worthiness”.

“Eco Bank secured the ex-parte orders from a Federal High court in November 2015, Honeywell regained it assets in 2016 through the Court of Appeal and in 2018, the supreme court upheld that Eco Bank was wrong and granted full access of the assets to Honeywell” SocietyNow.Ng learned.

Added information revealed that the legal condemnation of the move by Eco Bank was such that its counsel was sanctioned for the step.

Interestingly while trying to convince the court to grant the nullified ex-parte orders, Eco Bank reportedly added a sweetener, the bank  ” submitted an undertaking to compensate Honeywell Flour Mills for any harm or losses suffered as a result of the ex-parte order, if it is determined that the application was without merit.” SocietyNow.Ng learned.

SocietyNow.Ng gathered that is what has come back to haunt the Bank with Lawal as Chief Executive Officer.

Honeywell simply took Eco Bank and its legal team to their words in the undertaking and approached the court in 2018,  after the supreme court win, with a comprehensive compilation of the loss suffered during the period the ex-parte orders was applied on its assets.

“The result is the N72.2 Billion damages awarded on Tuesday (July 18, 2023), though Honeywell sought more than that” SocietyNow.Ng gathered.

Added checks revealed that though Eco Bank has announced the intention to appeal the decision, it has been an unsettling development for the Chief Executive Officer and his team.

SocietyNow.Ng gathered that this is especially because before the supreme court win that gave Eco Bank confidence of getting ₦13.5 billion from Honeywell Flour Mills in the original dispute, the Bankers’ Committee, Sub-committee on Ethics & Professionalism in a decision ratified by the Bankers’ Committee ruled in 2015 that HFMP was not indebted to the Bank.

But the Eco Bank refused to abide by the decision and insisted otherwise until the matter went to open court and entered into the latest chapter.

“And now the new Chief Executive Officer’s job just got tougher with such an addition to all that is already on his plate” SocietyNow.Ng learned.

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