Shareholders of five banks are up in arms agains industry regulators over N83.58 billion contribution into the sinking fund of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) in 2018.
The agitated banks shareholders include those of Sterling Bank, United Bank for Africa (UBA), Guaranty Trust Bank, Zenith International Bank and FBN Holdings.
Data obtained from the banks’ annual reports indicated that Sterling Bank paid the sum of N6.0 billion for the financial year ended Dec. 31, 2018.
UBA paid N16.63 billion, GT Bank N16.31 billion, Zenith Bank contributed N9.54 billion while FBN Holdings paid N35.10 billion.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), had on January 1, 2011, signed an agreement with banks operating in the country to establish the AMCON sinking fund.
The agreement required the CBN to contribute N50 billion and the banks an equivalent of 0.3 per cent of their total assets as at the date of their audited financial statements, annually for ten years.
However, the contribution, a non-refundable levy on all banks in Nigeria, was increased to 0.5 per cent in 2013.
Since then the shareholders have continued to kick against the sinking fund arguing they were shortchanged and urged the Federal Government to wind down the Corporation.
Commenting on the issue, Mr Moses Igbrude, Publicity Secretary, Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria, described AMCON as a fraud designed to surpress investment in Nigeria.
Igbrude said banks and their shareholders had paid over N1trillion to AMCON within eight years of its existence in spite of nationalising some banks without giving their shareholders anything.
He said AMCON was an emergency toxic vehicle established by the government through the CBN and stakeholders then to save the situation at hand, but noted that “it has overstayed its welcome.
“The only way forward is for AMCON to start winding up its operations because it has spent eight years, the remaining two years should be used for rounding off.
“The lawmakers should not extend the years. Shareholders will protest and even go to court to challenge AMCON’s extension,” Igbrude said. According to him, the government needs to evaluate the performance of AMCON since inception, noting that, the impact of the corporation is not felt.
Malam Shehu Mikail, National President, Constance Shareholders’ Association of Nigeria, decried the huge contributions being made by banks into the sinking fund to the detriment of their shareholders. Mikail said the act that established AMCON needed to be reviewed.
“The body should give details of its services to the nation.
“We do believe that all other regulatory agencies are up to the task of enforcing the necessary rules to sustain the financial sector,” he said.
Mikail noted that AMCON must be disengaged because, “it is causing more injury to shareholders in terms of dividend payment.”
Mr Ambrose Omordion, the Chief Operating Officer, InvestData Ltd. , believes that the establishment of AMCON saved many listed and unlisted companies by not allowing debts to swallow them.
However, he said the 0.5 per cent contribution by the banks to AMCON’S sinking fund meant a reduction in the funds available to banks to lend to the private sector.
“This is because such contributions can be channelled to support one sector of the economy, or enhance banks’ rewards to their shareholders,” Omordion said.
He noted that AMCON’s mandate was to recover and manage debt but nobody knew had the corporation deployed the contribution.
He explained that shareholders were against the contribution because they were not seeing the impact of the contribution to the capital market or the economy.