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Managing Director, AMCON, Ahmed Kuru

• Lawmakers rule out further debt purchase

The debt concentration in the books of Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) remains heavy in few hands, as the agency indicated that 350 persons owe it N2.5 trillion.

This is more than one-third of the 2017 national budget at N7.4 trillion, which these obligors are said to have exploited court processes and the shortcomings in the extant laws to frustrate recovery efforts.

The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of AMCON, Ahmed Kuru, yesterday, in Enugu at the opening of the retreat for the House of Representatives Committee on Banking and Currency, said the agency has continued to persevere in the face of adversity.

Meanwhile, the move to end acquisition of more debt from the banking industry by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) may have inched closer to a legislative backing.

Reason: The Chairman of House of Representatives Committee on Banking and Currency, Sir Jones Chukwudi Onyereri, vowed that the lawmakers will not be lured into supporting what he described as “deceptive plot orchestrated by some people.”

According to him, the plot is to talk AMCON into purchase of new debts from Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) in the country, which would amount to support for recklessness.Kuru told the lawmakers that the corporation’s recent assessment of obligors as at December 31, 2016, indicated that the 350 accounts with the amount represent about 80 per cent of AMCON’s total obligor profile.

“But AMCON has now repositioned its debt recovery approach to strengthen legal and credit restructuring units, to collaborate on the aforementioned 350 accounts, enhanced the restructuring and turnaround team and engage in asset tracing to enhance recovery,” he said.

He said that while the agency’s failure to recover its debt, principally owed to the Central Bank of Nigeria, cannot be quantified as it goes beyond economic cost, it has in the last two years, repaid N456.4 billion and N517.7 billion.

“But the actual payments were N256.7 billion and N191.1 billion in 2015 and 2016, respectively. This translates to a funding shortfall of N199.7 billion and N326.4 billion in 2015 and 2016, respectively.’’

But Onyereri, who addressed his colleagues in Enugu, yesterday, at the opening of the retreat for lawmakers, said the members were unanimous that it would not be the right decision for the country considering the state of the economy, which is on the pathway to recovery after sliding into recession.

“We are also aware that some economists are clamouring for AMCON to buy more toxic assets from the Eligible Financial Institutions (EFIs) in view of the very high level of the non-performing loans that are worse than the 2009 experience and far above the regulatory threshold.

“We wish to sound a note of warning that this committee will not; I repeat will not support any such move. At least not at a time like this in the history of our economy,” he said.

A lawyer and professor who would not want his name in print told The Guardian that greater part of the debts were deliberate connivance with bank staff and political class, who are now also seeing that the recovery process is frustrated.

The Managing Director of Afrinvest Securities Limited, Ayodeji Eboh, said that while the recovery is very important, it is worth noting that the value has been washed overtime due to inflation.

According to him, the complaints over exploiting loopholes in the law by the obligors were ab initio mistakes made by those who booked the loans that ignored the process of proper documentations and collaterals commensurate with the facility.