NISA President, Labinjo in $6.5m vessel purchase scandal

President of the Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA), Navy Capt. Niyi Labinjo (rtd) has been accused of allegedly diverting part of a USD5.85million (about N1.2billion) loan facility granted by a Nigerian commercial bank to an indigenous shipping company, Acenk Maritime & Energy Services Limited for the purchase of two vessels.

Ironically, the accusation is being levelled against Labinjo and his wife, Bola by the daughter of their benefactor – the founder and immediate past Chairman of Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA), Chief Isaac Jolapamo.

In between sobs, Mrs. Adenike Jolapamo-Onifade told SHIPS & PORTS DAILY that her greatest undoing was to disclose to Mrs. Bola Labinjo that she was about to access a loan from one of the first generation banks (names withheld).

She said she trusted the Labinjos so much that she did not see anything wrong with Mrs. Labinjo’s idea for her and her husband to be a part of the loan deal.

“I was so naive. I don’t know if they used some spiritual things on me. These people are heartless. They want to ruin me,” she said.

Jolapamo-Onifade narrated her story as follows:

“About five months ago, in August 2014 to be precise, I made an application for a loan of USD2.5million to purchase an Oil Tanker to the bank. Whilst speaking with Mrs. Labinjo a few days later about the loan application, she pleaded with me to increase it from USD2.5million to USD7.5million.

“She said General Alexander Ogomudia wanted to give them (the Labinjos) a 30% deposit to purchase a Fast Support Intervention Vessel (FSIV) for him. She told me the price of the FSIV was USD4.2million so I said that we should request for USD6.5million loan rather than the USD7.5million she suggested.

“The bank requested for 10 per cent equity on the transaction. This amounted to USD650,000 (N125million) which Mrs. Labinjo made available. She said it was provided by General Ogomudia.”

Jolapamo-Onifade said the loan facility of USD6.5million was subsequently granted to her company, Acenk Maritime & Energy Services Limited via an offer letter dated 15th September, 2014.

According to her, upon approval of the loan and while her company was preparing to fulfill the condition precedent to drawdown, she requested that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the purpose of repayment structure to the bank for the three-year period be signed between her company, Acenk Maritime & Energy Services and Ogomudia’s company, Turbo Dynamic Nigeria Limited in the ratio of USD2.3million to Acenk for the purchase of the Oil Tanker it needed and USD4.2million to Turbo Dynamic for the purchase of its FSIV.

“I so much trusted the Labinjos by virtue of Captain Labinjo’s relationship with my father – having worked with my father for 12 years as the Secretary to NISA while my father was the Chairman.

“After the fulfillment of the condition precedent to drawdown and the money ($5.85million) was released into my account for onward transfer to the different vendors, I allowed and gave the bank written instructions to transfer the balance of the money of USD2.35million to Labinjo’s broker, Radunia International Corporation in Greece.

“This was after the first transfer of the ten per cent deposit (equity) to the same broker. I later found out after the arrival of the vessel that the broker, Radunia Corporation did not remit the USD650,000.00 to the owners of the FSIV as it was actually purchase for USD3.5million which the bank transferred directly to ABC Maritime Corporation in Geneva, Switzerland who are the owners of the fast intervention support vessel named ‘FISV KRYSIA’.

“I was not aware of all this information at that time because Captain Labinjo was the main contact person dealing with owners of the vessel,” she said.

Continuing, Jolapamo-Onifade said, “At the conclusion of the transaction on the FSIV, I mentioned and also gave invoices to the Labinjos that I had negotiated for a 5,000dwt 1989-built oil tanker which was trading on Italian waters. I told them to instruct their broker, Radunia Corporation to transfer the sum of USD1.8million to the owners of the Oil Tanker and the balance of USD500,000 to my account for the logistics of clearing and bringing the vessel to Nigerian waters.

“That was when the problem started. Rather than transfer the money, they started telling me all sorts of stories.”

She said after waiting for more than a month without any headway, she approached one of her friends at Fidelity Bank where the Labinjos maintain their company accounts. That was when the bubble burst as she discovered that rather than pay for her Oil Tanker with the balance $2.3million, Radunia had been transferring the money into various accounts belonging to the Labinjos.

She said, “I initially believed their stories for more than a month until I mentioned the matter to a friend of mine who works in Fidelity Bank where they have their accounts and she promised to help me investigate. She later came back with telex copies of money transfer from Radunia International Corporation to the Labinjos’ account.”

It was discovered that Radunia severally transfered money to Transunion Credit Agency Nig. Ltd, Global Shipping Activities Bureau Limited and Soughtafter International Synergy Ltd – all companies Jolapamo-Onifade claimed are owned Labinjo and his wife.

“To my greatest surprise, I noticed from one of the telex transfers that the sum of USD377,000 was transferred to them few days after we came back from the closing of the FSIV vessel transaction in Geneva. And they never told me anything,” she added.

In all, it was discovered that a total of USD1,125,530 (N216million) of the first generation bank loan had been transferred by the supposed shipbroker, Radunia International Corporation to the companies. There is also no evidence that the USD650,000 released as equity contribution by General Ogomudia was transferred to any broker or shipowner abroad.

The telex transfer documents revealed that Radinia transferred USD220,000 to Transunion Credit Reporting Agency Nig. Ltd on 17/10/2014; USD20,000 on 6/11/2014; USD300,000 on 17/11/2014 and USD350,000 on 25/11/2014.

Radunia also transferred USD230,000 to Soughtafter International Synergy Ltd on 6/10/2014 and USD5,530 to Global Shipping Activities Bureau Limited on 6/11/2014.

“This is the money meant for the purchase of my Oil Tanker and the Labinjos connived with Radunia to divert the money for personal use. Now they are using the bank’s money to live large,” she claimed.

Mrs. Adenike Jolapamo-Onifade said that she has been greatly distressed by the attitude of the Labinjos. She said all she wanted was immediate release of the money in the custody of the Labinjos to enable her fulfill her contractual obligations.

“Failure to do so will mean inviting the EFCC and other relevant authoritites into the matter,” she stated.

But when contacted, the NISA President, Capt. Niyi Labinjo denied having any business transaction with Jolapamo-Onifade.

“I am aware she had a business transaction with my wife. They had an MoU but along the line, there was a breakdown of the agreement. Trust was also lost. I am aware also that there are arrangements to return all the loan to her so that she can go her way since the working agreement is not working,” he told SHIPS & PORTS DAILY.

When asked how soon he thinks Acenk Maritime & Energy Services Limited would get the money back, he said “very soon”.

 

 

 

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