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Friday, 24 June 2016

AMCON shuts Murray-Bruce’s Silverbird offices over N11b debt

AMCON shuts Murray-Bruce’s Silverbird offices over N11b debt
SEALED: The Silverbird Galleria being sealed on the order of the court in Abuja…yesterday. PHOTO: NAN
The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) yesterday took over the assets of three firmss belonging Silberbird Group – the famiily firm of Senator Ben Murray-Bruce (Bayelsa East).
Affected are Silverbird Galleria Limited, Silverbird Promotions Limited and Silverbird Showtime Limited. They are  located in Lagos, Abuja andPort Harcourt.
The Lagos’ property is located at 133 Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island; Abuja’s property is at Plot No 1161 (Silverbird Galleria), Central Area Cadastral Zone Apo, while Rivers’ is on Abonnema Wharf Road and Abali Park in Port Harcourt.
The takeover followed interim orders granted by Justice Cecilia Olatoregun-Ishola of the Lagos Federal High Court on June 17, which allowed the receiver and manager to take possession of the affected firms.
Agents of AMCON’s Receiver/Manager arrived at the firms in the early hours of yesterday in company of security operatives to take over the properties. Workers were prevented from entering the affected firms’ premises before they were locked up.
According to AMCON, Senator Bruce, using his firms in 2005 and 2007, borrowed various sums of money from the Union Bank of Nigeria Plc and defaulted in his obligations to pay back.
AMCON bought over the loans from the bank and reached agreement with Senator Bruce on repayment. But the lawmaker could not make up the debt with AMCON, prompting the takeover.
Counsel to the Receiver/Manager, Kunle Adegoke, said Senator Bruce’s loan was purchased by AMCON in 2011 after the capital base of Union Bank was “terribly shaky”. He said the lawmaker “persistently failed” to pay the loans.
Adegoke denied that AMCON’s action had political undertone, saying the takeover of Silverbird properties was legal and in line with mortgage laws.
He said: “Aside that the receivership was done pursuant to deeds of legal mortgages duly executed by the three companies and guaranteed by Mr. Ben Murray-Bruce and four of his brothers, there is a court order backing same up.
“It must be borne in mind that innocent depositors’ money is what Mr. Murray-Bruce and his brothers have been living large and feeding fat upon without recourse to the interest of the real labourers who own the money.”
Reacting to the development, Senator Bruce said he was on international transit when he got the news of the takeover. He expressed his resolve to remain composed, saying the development was not unusual for a business that has been in existence for over three decades.
Reacting to the development on Twitter, he said: “In 36 years, Silverbird has grown and like anybody, it will face challenges; tough times don’t last. But we, as tough people, outlast them.
“I have been on an international flight and have only just landed. The situation is being resolved and things will be back to normal.”