FCMB sued to court by Fidelity Finance over N1bn margin loan


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First City Monument Bank (FCMB) has found itself dragged into court by a stockbroking firm over an alleged breach of agreement on a margin trading facility contract.

Fidelity Finance Company Limited sued the mid-sized retail bank, claiming damages of N1 billion in a Federal High Court in Lagos.

The firm, which is owned by former chairman of Afribank, Osa Osunde, is seeking a declaration of the court that FCMB, under the contract, had the duty to monitor the transaction with the view to determine when loss of stock value exceeded the acceptable secure limit, and notify it to shore up the stock value either with stock or cash.

The bank, according to the plaintiff (Fidelity Finance), was also obligated to sell the stock in the event that it failed to shore up the stock value or pay down the facility.

But the plaintiff claimed in the statement of claim that the defendant failed to satisfy its obligation under the contract, a development, which was said to have led to monumental loss.

The plaintiff stated in a supporting affidavit that sometime in April 2007, FCMB, in furtherance of various discussions, offered it a term loan in the sum of N250 million, and the same was accepted on the terms and conditions contained therein.

In November 2007, the bank again offered a N1 billion margin trading facility to the plaintiff and the same was also accepted on certain terms and conditions.

Several other enhancement margin-trading facilities were also offered to the plaintiff by the defendant and the same were accepted based on terms and conditions agreed.

Continuing, the plaintiff recalled that by the operational features and transaction dynamics of the contracts, Fidelity Finance and FCMB opened a joint account with the Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS) where all settlements on the trading floor were to be made.

Fidelity Finance added: “By the terms of the contract between the plaintiff and the defendant, the plaintiff contributed 30 per cent of the investment sum, while the defendant contributed N1 billion by virtue of the addition of the shares purchased with the N1 billion advanced by the defendant.

“The total shares worth N1.3 billion were placed in a special account over which the defendant had a lien and unilateral right of sales in the event of default in repayment by the plaintiff.

“The N1.3 billion worth of shares provided 130 percent security cover for the sum of N1 billion advanced by the defendant.

“In fulfilment of the condition of the contract between the plaintiff and the defendant on the margin trading facility, the plaintiff executed various undated letters of authority in favour of the defendant to dispose of the shares pledged as security.

“By the term of the contract between the plaintiff and the defendant, the defendant had a duty to monitor the daily price movement of the stocks pledged as security and to collect a trading statement to confirm daily transactions.

“It was the intention of the parties to the contract that the defendant’s duty and obligation to monitor and when necessary dispose of the shares held as security for the transaction, was to ensure that in the worst scenario, the defendant suffered no loss at all on the transaction and the plaintiff suffers minimal or limited loss on the transaction.

“The contract on the N2.25 billion margin facility expired on 3rd of September, 2008, but in spite of the expiration, the defendant failed to sell the stock pledged as security but instead continued to accumulate interest and other charges on the account of the plaintiff and made continuous demands for payment of various illegal sums as alleged outstanding balance,” Fidelity Finance narrated.


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