Stanbic IBTC vs. FRCN: Court Fails To Sit 

StanbicThe Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Tuesday failed to sit to hear a suit instituted by Stanbic IBTC against the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria, FRCN, and National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion, NOTAP.

Presiding Justice Ibrahim Buba was absent and the proceedings had to be adjourned to Wednesday, November 4.

In the suit, Stanbic IBTC Bank is asking the court to determine, among others, whether FRCN has the power to impose a fine of 1 billion Naira on it.

FRCN had last week sanctioned Stanbic IBTC over its audited accounts for 2013 and 2014 and suspended the financial reporting numbers of the bank’s Chairman, Mr. Atedo Peterside, and its Chief Executive, Mrs Sola David-Borha, and also barred them from vouching for the integrity of any financial statements in Nigeria.

The body also suspended two other directors – Mr. Arthur Oginga and Dr. Daru Owei – for attesting to what it termed the “misleading”  2013 and 2014 financial accounts of the bank, as well as Ayodele Othihiwa of KPMG professional services for his firm’s alleged complicity in the infractions highlighted in the financial reports for the two-year period.

It based its sanctions on issues raised by the bank’s minority shareholders led by the Mahtani brothers who own the Churchgate conglomerate, to some other regulatory agencies such as NOTAP, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), among others.

Stanbic IBTC Says It Has Met Financial Reporting Standards

StanbicStanbic IBTC Holdings says it has met the disclosure requirements of the International Financial Reporting Standards.

The company was responding to what it called “inaccurate and unseemly allegations” made against Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC by the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN).

The company, in a statement said that although the matter was in court, it was constrained to respond to certain aspects of the report for the benefit of its stakeholders and the general public.

It said, “FRCN’s allegations are inaccurate and unfortunate, and the manner in which it has chosen to make them is procedurally defective.

“Whilst FRCN takes refuge in Regulation 21 of the Directorate of Inspection and Monitoring Guidelines Regulations 2014 for the wide publicity that it has given to its regulatory decision, Regulation 21 only applies ‘Where the Panel and the entity agree that accounts are to be rectified by way of revision or restatement’.

“That is not the case here, because Stanbic IBTC does not agree that its accounts are defective or require rectification.  Moreover, Regulation 27 makes clear that where a reporting entity does not accept FRCN’s position, FRCN ‘shall institute a legal action against the entity’.

“FRCN has ignored this laid down process in preference for self-help and media publicity,” it said.

The company further explained that the matters that FRCN alleged to be wrong were not wrong “in any material respect” and many are not matters of financial reporting, but matters of business decision and judgment for Stanbic IBTC and its board of directors.

“For example, the decision whether to enter into a sale and lease back, whether in relation to intellectual property or any other asset, is a business decision and entirely a matter for the board of directors of Stanbic IBTC and certainly not a matter for FRCN.

“In the same vein, NOTAP’s refusal to register a franchise agreement does not render the agreement null or void, or indeed relieve Stanbic IBTC of its liability. It merely means that any foreign currency payment due to the foreign counterparty under the unregistered agreement cannot be remitted. Stanbic IBTC has not and will not make any remittance which is subject to NOTAP approval without obtaining such approval.

“Stanbic IBTC is a very responsible organisation and fully complies with all extant laws and regulations in Nigeria and international best practices applicable to the conduct of its business.”

The statement added that contrary to media reports, the Directors of Stanbic IBTC have not been ousted, “The directors, who are from Nigeria and elsewhere, are reputable individuals who uphold the best corporate governance practices and whose credibility, integrity and proven track record are impeccable.”

FRC Directs Stanbic IBTC To Give Financial Details For 2013/2014 Year

ibtc-frcThe Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has directed Stanbic IBTC Plc to withdraw and restate their financial statements for years ended December 31 2013 and 2014.

The Council, in a statement, also suspended the FRC registration numbers of four of its Directors who signed the misleading statement of financial positions of Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc for the years under review, until the investigations are completed.

These persons include Atedo Peterside, Sola David Borha, Arthur Oginga and Dr. Daru Owei.

The FRC number of the audit engagement partner, Mr. Ayodele Othihiwa, was also suspended.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have been requested to assist in the effort and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has also been requested to ensure related taxes are paid and the government is not unduly short changed.