The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) Wednesday got more powers to enforce recovery of debt from persons owing legacy banks or seizure of property subject of loan obligation.
This followed assent to the AMCON (Amendment) Act, 2019, and the National Biosafety Management Agency (Amendment) Act, 2019 by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The assent to the new AMCON law came weeks after the presidency constituted a task force, with all the antigraft agencies as members, to ensure the effective recovery of over N5 trillion being outstanding debts owed the corporation.
A presidential aide on National Assembly (Senate), Ita Enang, a senator said the new law empowers the corporation to place any bank account or any other account comparable to a bank account of a debtor of an eligible financial institution under surveillance.
“To obtain access to any computer system component, electronic or mechanical device of any debtor with a view to establishing the location of funds belonging to the debtor, and to obtain information in respect of any private account together with all bank financial and commercial records of any debtor of any eligible financial institution, banking secrecy, and the protection of customer confidentiality is not a ground for the denial of the power of the Corporation under this section.
“It makes it mandatory for AMCON to, despite the convention of confidentiality of banking, business and contracting relations to: “…furnish the federal government,ministries, departments and agencies with a list of recalcitrant debtors and then impose an obligation to seek clearance on the federal government, ministries, departments and agencies when the federal government, any Ministry, Department or Agency proposes to contract with, or pay, debtors on the list furnished by the Corporation.’’
It further provides that: (1) all money standing to the credits of the corporation in any bank account is deemed to be in the custody and control of the corporation. (2) where any proceeding is pending in any court of competent jurisdiction by or any the Corporation, the grant of any interim, interlocutory or preservative order of attachment against the corporation’s funds in any bank is prohibited. (3) the Corporation may require any eligible financial institution from which it has acquired an eligible bank asset or any director, manager or officer of such eligible financial institution to furnish information and produce documents, books, accounts and records in relation to any eligible bank asset acquired by the Corporation from such eligible financial institution or in relation to the borrower or other obligator connected with such eligible bank asset.
The Act also states that upon dissolution of the corporation: (a) all unresolved eligible bank assets then held by the corporation shall be transferred by the liquidator or joint liquidator to such government agency, or for valuable consideration, to a third party asset management company or other entity specified by the Central Bank of Nigeria; (b) All then existing staff shall be re-deployed to and absorbed into the Central Bank of Nigeria or the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation.
The Act provides for “a part-time chairman who shall be a deputy Governor in the Central Bank of Nigeria to be nominated by the Central Bank of Nigeria.’’