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Banks seek EFCC investigation of Etisalat over $1.2 billion loan


A top management source of Etisalat told The Guardian that “the actual outstanding on the loan is about $500 million (N165 billion).

The consortium of 13 banks involved in Etisalat Nigeria’s $1.2 billion loan wants the Federal Government, through the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), to investigate what the company did with the loan.

A management source yesterday, alleged that the loans were siphoned and needed to be investigated by the EFCC, noting, there was no proof of what the company did with the loan.

He said that the affected banks had rolled out a lot of viable options to Etisalat for the loan to be restructured, but was rejected by the company. The source according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) said that the banks were not into telecommunications and had no intention of running Etisalat.

“All we want is to recover the loans; we cannot write off the loans as being demanded by Etisalat, because the company is viable,” the source stated. The source said that Etisalat wanted the banks to write off the loan as non-performing, which was rejected because the company was doing well.

According to the source, the company wants injection of new capital, and this has been suggested to the majority shareholder. The source said the government should investigate the matter with all seriousness, to dig out the truth.

Meanwhile, there was an indication yesterday that Etisalat may have paid about 50 per cent of the original loan from its consortium of lending bankers. A top management source of Etisalat told The Guardian that “the actual outstanding on the loan is about $500 million (N165 billion). This is in view of the fact that Etisalat has serviced the $1.2 billion loan up until earlier this year when discussions with the banks regarding the repayment restructuring commenced. I can confirm to you in confidence that the company has made repayment of over 50 per cent of the original loan so far.”

This could not however be confirmed from the banks as at press time. A top shot at one of the lending banks, who doesn’t want his name or that of the bank mentioned told The Guardian that Etisalat actually paid some money, “but I can’t confirm that figure now. I will get back as soon as I have concrete information on that.”

Checks on some of the experience centres of the telecommunications firm, yesterday showed that normal activities were going on as workers went about their duties unhindered. Customers were spotted coming in and out of the centres.

The top management source said that the announcement made by Emirates Telecommunications Group Company (The Etisalat Group) of Abu Dhabi, United Arabs Emirate to pull out of the Nigerian telecommunication arm was not a sign of bankruptcy or insolvency.

According to him, “What has effectively happened is a change in ownership and not a receivership, bankruptcy or winding up so operations will continue to run and subscribers can continue to access services on the network as usual.”

The senior official also assured that the company’s day-to-day operations would not be disrupted in any way and that subscribers would continue to enjoy excellent customer experience on its network during and after the transition period.

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