Thu. May 23rd, 2024

AMCON Drags Milan Industries’ Chair, Rajesh Valecha, Four Directors to Court over Alleged ₦42 Billion Debt

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The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) has initiated bankruptcy proceedings against the Chairman of Milan Industries Limited, Milan Nigeria Ltd and Milan Beverages Ltd, Rajesh Valecha and four other directors of the companies over their alleged inability to repay a ₦42 billion debt.

The other directors, named in five petitions, now pending before two judges of the Federal High Court in Lagos, are: Ramesh Valechha, Vikram Valechha, Odunlami Bayo and Akin Femiwa Akinsola.

According to plaintiff’s lawyer, Kunle Ogunba (SAN), the debt, which now stands at ₦41,511,758,031.14 arose from several loan facilities obtained from Skye Bank (now Polaris Bank) between 2010 and 2012 by Milan Industries Ltd and Milan Nigeria Ltd, for which the directors are now liable.

Observing that it has since acquired the debt from the bank, AMCON stated that the debtor companies applied majority of the loan facilities to the construction of a 361-room hotel facility at 52 Kofo Abayomi Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, formally known as Intercontinental Hotel (now Lagos Continental Hotel).

It stated that, “the debtors are, as at the instant of this petition remain indebted to the creditor (AMCON) to the tune of ₦41,511,758,031.14 which said sum remains unpaid.

“The creditor, by the provisions of Section 48 of the Asset Management Corporation (Amendment No.2) Act, 2019 is also imbued with the requisite vires to proceed against and recover the indebtedness of the debtor companies by the enforcement of the individual liability(ies) of each shareholder and/or director of the said debtor companies – in the instant case, being Milan Industries Limited, Milan Nigeria Limited, Milan Beverages Limited.”

The corporation among others, is praying for an order appointing a trustee against the estate, funds, investment, shares or other interest of the directors, “principally as they may be vested, constituted or evinced in Milan Industries Limited, Milan Nigeria Limited, and Milan Beverages Limited which interest is held either directly or through the said Milan Industries Limited and/or in any other company within and outside Nigeria.

It also wants an order commanding each of the affected directors to immediately avail it with a, “statement of affairs, statement of net worth and other credible financial details requisite and in furtherance of the Bankruptcy Act.”

AMCON is equally seeking consequential order empowering it to sell the directors’ properties (be it landed or chattels) where – ever situate and/or found including but not limited to his shares principally in Milan Industries Limited, Milan Nigeria Limited, and Milan Beverages Limited which interest is held directly or through the said Milan Industries Limited either by private treaty or by public auction which occasion shall be published in two widely read and circulated national daily newspapers in Nigeria.

Also, AMCON wants an order granting it leave to appropriate or otherwise utilise the investments, shares or other interests of the directors in the companies and in any other company/corporate entity in Nigeria or outside Nigeria in partial or full satisfaction of the debt due, as the case may be.

It equally seeks an order permitting/allowing it to apply the proceeds from the sale of the directors’ properties, chattels, chooses in action and/or interest towards liquidating their indebtedness.

On March 21, Justice Daniel Osiagor, granted AMCON leave to effect substituted service of relevant court documents, including the petitions on Ramesh Valechha and Vikram Valechha by either pasting them at their last known address at LSDPC Flats, Ground floor, Adeola Odeku, Victoria Island, Lagos State or publish them as advertorial in national dailies circulating within the court’s jurisdiction or serve them on companies’ lawyers at the law firm of A. B. Kasunmu Chambers LP at 284 Murtala Mohammed Way, Alagomeji, Yaba, Lagos State.

Similar orders for substituted service were earlier made in the petitions against the other three directors.

While Justice Osiagor is hearing three of the petitions (filed against Ramesh Valechha, Vikram Valechha and Akin Femiwa Akinsola), Justice Yelim Bogoro is handling two (filed against Rajesh Valecha and Odunlami Bayo).

Both judges had, in earlier rulings, issued ex-parte injunctions restraining the directors from tampering with their assets and ordering banks to provide information about their financial standing.

In one of the rulings, the court stated: “It is hereby ordered as follows: That an order is granted restraining the debtor his agents, servants and/or privies or any other person or group of persons whatsoever under the debtor’s authority or any other authority (however derived or sourced) from operating, withdrawing from or otherwise tampering and/or dealing with the debtor’s funds in any bank or financial institution within Nigeria pending the hearing and final determination of petition herein.

“That a consequential order is granted directing and/or compelling all banks or financial institutions in Nigeria harbouring the debtor’s account(s) to furnish the creditor (AMCON) or its firm of solicitors, the details of the credit outstanding in the debtor’s account(s) within seven days of receipt of the enabling order of this Honourable court as certified and enrolled.

“That an order is granted restraining the debtor, his agents, servants and/or privies from interfering with, tampering, removing from jurisdiction of this honourable court his investments, shareholders, pecuniary and other beneficial interests in any company or corporate establishment in Nigeria, pending the hearing and final determination of the petition herein.

“That an interim order is granted restraining the debtor, his agents, servants and/or privies from interfering with, tampering, removing from the jurisdiction of this honourable court his investments, shareholders, pecuniary and other beneficial interests in any company or corporate establishment in Nigeria, pending the hearing and final determination of the petition herein”.

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