According to Premium Times, some senior officials of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria are voicing strong opposition to the planned sale of Keystone Bank Ltd.
The disquiet comes as the state-owned asset management company is set to announce new owners for the bank, which is the last of the three nationalised financial institutions yet to be sold.
The disturbed officials say Ahmed Kuru, the chairman of AMCON, has concluded plans to hand over Keystone to a coalition of powerful Northern interests, disregarding extant takeover provisions of AMCON in the process.
Barring any last minute changes, a firm linked to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and Umar Modibbo, MD/CEO of Sigma Pensions Limited, may emerge the new owner of Keystone Bank with its nearly 160 branches.
The two influential Nigerians are allegedly being represented by the firm which our sources said did not participate in the bidding process, in a clear contradiction of basic public asset sale requirements.
Following a commercial placed for the bidding process by AMCON, 13 companies submitted their expression of interests. These did not include the firm which AMCON is now set to sell the bank to.
The members, who spoke strictly on the condition of anonymity, said Mr. Kuru sidestepped laid down requirements for asset sale to ensure Keystone is ceded to his cronies.
“It is very clear that all caution was thrown to the wind as a result of a grand plan to disqualify very strong and reputable intended buyers in order to allow the cronies and business associates of the Managing Director take over the bank,” a senior AMCON official said.
The deal could also see Nigerian taxpayers lose billions of naira if allowed to stand. This is because AMCON is reportedly in talks to sell the bank for about N25.1 billion, representing only a fraction of the approximately N200 billion that AMCON paid to purchase the bank’s bad debts in 2011.
The concerned officials also wondered why AMCON would sell a bank of Keystone’s magnitude to a firm that has no requisite expertise in banking and financial management.
The story first appeared HERE.