Mr. Aderinokun, MD-GTBank

Mr. Aderinokun, MD-GTBank

A long standing corporate customer (name withheld) of GTBank was non-plussed when it received a letter from the bank demanding the repayment of a supposed debt to the bank totaling N334,120,241.05.

In a letter dated August 2, 2008 and addressed to the customer, Jumoke Adekola and Sarah Ugamah, both of the legal department of the GTBank, forcefully asserted the failure of the customer to regularize his account: “We note with displeasure that despite our demand, you have failed, refused and neglected to regularize your account as requested,” the two legal department staff that signed the letter noted. “The outstanding debit balance in your account as at today is N334,120,241.05 and interest continues to accrue at the ruling market rate,” Adekola and Ugamah said in the letter.

Giving a demand ultimatum on the repayment of the debt, the two insisted: “Please, take this as our final demand that you fully liquidate your indebtedness to the Bank by paying the outstanding balance on your account within seven days from the date of this letter.”

The duo further threatened: “Please, note that if you do not pay up the amount outstanding at the expiration of this period, we will be compelled under banking regulations to report the state of your account to the Credit Risk Management System Bureau of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

“In addition, we shall explore all legal avenues to recover the debt, including but not limited to instituting winding up proceedings against your company, this we shall do without further recourse to you,” the GTBank’s letter further threatened.

The Bank might have noticed its gaffe when the enraged and apparently embarrassed customer replied the demand letter for liquidation of indebtedness. In the reply dated August 5, 2008, the customer observed: “We confirm that we have an established banking relationship with GTBank Plc for more than three years now and were recently granted a N700million facility for which we are yet to draw down.

“It was therefore with disbelief and shock that we received your letter purportedly demanding that we repay the sum of N334,120,241.05 within seven days from the date of this letter.”

The customer then cleared the fact that it owed the bank no money by affirming that: “For the avoidance of any doubt, we hereby state categorically that we did not undertake ANY transaction with the bank that relates to the contents of the aforesaid letter.

“We believe that the letter must have been wrongly addressed or an error/fraud committed in/with your bank and hope that you will urgently look into the matter and ensure that our good name and relationship is restored.”

Banking experts their expressed their views on the near recklessness of GTBank’s letter to its customer argued that the Bank was unprofessional in its approach to raising demand for repayment.

“Let’s even assume that the customer was indebted to the Bank, is it not proper that such an obviously high net worth customer be approached informally in person to person discussion to resolve the issue?” the banking expert argued.

“I think that is a better procedure than the official threats contained in the letter. I suspect that something must have gone seriously wrong in the Bank’s operations for such a mistake of identity to have occurred,” the expert observed.

Another expert counseled that this provides another reason for banks’ customers to constantly review their statements of account if need be with accountants and forensic accounting expert.

“This shows clearly that a customer can be wrongly debited through the error or deliberate machination of an insider,” the expert observed.

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