N2.6billion suit slammed on Diamond Bank over illegal charges

Uzoma Dozie, Chief Executive  Officer/MD of Diamond Bank

Uzoma Dozie, Chief Executive Officer/MD of Diamond Bank

A limited liability company, Gitto Costruzioni Generali Nigeria has slammed N2,664,202,540.90 (2.6 billion) suit on Diamond bank Plc for allegedly mismanaging its account domicile with the bank by making illicit profits and deductions.

In a statement of claim filed before a Federal high court in Lagos by barrister Dr B. A. M.Ajibade SAN, the company alleged that, its banking relationship with Diamond bank Plc started sometimes in 2004.

Gitto said it opened its main account to execute several construction projects and in its banking relationship with the bank, it was granted numerous banking facilities, in form of, overdraft, loan and bank guarantees.

The bank voluntarily agreed to stop charging penal fees of one per cent in respect of the overdraft facility accounts whenever the account would be in excess of the overdraft facility, while the terms and conditions of the facilities as stated and specified in respective offer letters were subject to the subsisting laws of the land, regulations and conditions imposed by the Central Bank of Nigeria in its role as the regulator of the Nigerian banking sector, banking practice, and informal agreements of the parties as clearly documented in the bank statements.

In addition the company stated that the banker owed it a fiduciary duty to act in good faith, as well as a professional duty of transparency and honesty and obliged to manage its accounts in a professional, ethical, responsible and honest manner, and not to engage in any form of illicit profiteering which would adversely impact the company’s operations.

However the company averred that Diamond bank Plc has consistently overcharged its various account with Commission on turn over COT, Lending fees, Bank Guarrantee fees, Transfer fees, interest on loan contrary to the terms negotiated and indicated in the offer letters pursuant to which loans were granted to the company.

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In addition, the bank consistently charged interest rates above the rates negotiated and agreed by the parties and over and above the maximum rates stipulated by the Central Bank in its extant guidelines and directives on bank charges.

The company averred that it had repeatedly written several letters to the bank complaining about the unauthorized charges applied to its accounts, but the bank only deemed it fit for the first time to advise and admitted that a total of N58,930,301.76 had been wrongly charged.

The bank further admitted that excess charges made in its account was N245,893,079.83.

Still not satisfied with the discrepancy between the amount overcharged it found in its accounts as per the companies audit review to the tune of N1,512,312,885.47 and the amount admitted by the bank to the tune of N245,893079.83.

The prolonged dispute over the claims of the company adversely affected the relationship with the bank as well as the ability of the company to timely pursue the execution of its project, mainly the construction of Akwa Ibom airport.

Consequently, the plaintiff claims against the defendant are as follows:

Special damages in the sum of N564,202,540.90 for the loss of profit that the plaintiff would have generated from the Akwa Ibom Airport project if it had not been deprived of part of its working capital.

Special damages in the sum of N1,000,000,000 for the consequential loss suffered by the company arising from the loss of production and delays in completing the Akwa Ibom Airport Project, which delay was caused by lack of financing due to the bank’s wrongful and excessive deductions from the company’s account with it.

The sum of N1billion as general damages for breach of the banker/customer relationship and the fiduciary duties which the bank owes to the company arising therefrom.

The sum of N100,000,000 being the cost of this suit.

The suit has been adjourned till 15th of October, 2018 for hearing.

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