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Femi Otedola accuses Jim Ovia Over Alleged Multibillion Naira Fraud

Femi Otedola accuses Jim Ovia Over Alleged Multibillion Naira Fraud

The ongoing dispute between billionaire businessman Femi Otedola and Jim Ovia, chairman of Zenith Bank, has intensified over allegations of a multibillion naira fraud. Otedola has accused Ovia of unauthorized use of Seaforce Shipping Limited’s Zenith Bank account for trading activities in 2011 without his knowledge or consent.

The Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID) of the police is currently investigating these allegations, though efforts are being made to reach an amicable resolution. TheCable has reached out to Ovia and Zenith Bank for comments on the matter.

Unapproved Transactions

According to Otedola’s petition, Seaforce Shipping’s account, inactive since 2010, was illicitly used for trading without his consent. Otedola claims that Seaforce Shipping never applied for or received a loan from Zenith Bank, yet unauthorized transactions amounting to billions of naira continued on the account.

When Otedola requested documentation, such as offer letters supporting the alleged loans, Zenith Bank reportedly failed to provide them. Otedola discovered the suspicious activities 13 years later through a whistleblower within Zenith Bank. When confronted, bank officials apologized.

Otedola presented a letter dated March 19, 2018, from Zenith Bank to Seaforce’s auditors, Shofolawe-Bakare & Co, which stated a debt of N2,278,420 on the account. However, the account statement seen by TheCable indicated a debt of N5 billion. Interestingly, the bank statement on the same day showed a debt of N2.9 billion.

Between 2011 and 2024, transactions exceeding N16 billion were recorded against Seaforce’s account. Otedola questioned the origin of payments that purportedly reduced the debt from N16.9 billion to N11 billion, as he was unaware of these transactions.

Significant credits recorded on the account included N77,169,375.00 on April 18, 2011, N119,822,762.50 on December 1, 2011, N316,537,329.30 on December 8, 2011, N266,361,181.73 on December 15, 2011, and N444,304,524.50 on December 12, 2011. Currently, Seaforce owes N5,916,704,059.13, largely due to interest charges.

A senior official from Zenith Bank has been questioned by the police in connection with the case.

Meanwhile, Seaforce Shipping Limited, Luzon Oil and Gas, Garment Care Limited, Zenon, and Femi Otedola have obtained a federal high court injunction against Zenith Bank, Quantum Zenith Securities and Investment, Veritas Registrar, and Central Securities Clearing System. This injunction prohibits these entities from trading shares or distributing dividends until the court hears the motion for an interlocutory injunction.

This Article is Fact-Checked. See Policy.

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