Femi Otedola exposes suspected fraud in Zenith Bank account

The ongoing dispute between billionaire businessman Femi Otedola and Jim Ovia, chairman of Zenith Bank, regarding an alleged multibillion-naira fraud has escalated.

As reported by TheCable, Otedola has made a grave accusation, asserting that in 2011, Ovia, the chairman of Zenith Bank, allegedly misused the Zenith Bank account of his company, Seaforce Shipping Limited, to conduct trades without his knowledge or permission, a serious breach of trust.

While the Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID) of the police is currently investigating these and other allegations, efforts are being made to settle the issues amicably.

It was gathered that the online newspaper has reached out to Ovia and Zenith Bank for their comments.

Despite the unexpected turn of events, with Seaforce Shipping’s inactivity since 2010, its account was still used for trading activities without Otedola’s knowledge, as stated in his police petition, a revelation that has shocked many.

Otedola asserted that Seaforce never applied for or received a loan from Zenith Bank, yet unauthorised trading worth billions of naira persisted in the account.

When asked for crucial documentation, such as offer letters, to support the alleged loans, Zenith Bank reportedly could not provide it, raising questions about the transparency of their operations.

Otedola only became aware of the suspicious activities recently – 13 years after the transactions occurred – when a whistleblower within Zenith Bank informed him.

Upon confronting Zenith Bank officials, the online newspaper reported that they issued an apology.

Findings from alleged fraudulent

Otedola presented a letter dated March 19, 2018, from Zenith Bank to Shofolawe-Bakare & Co, Seaforce’s auditors, which stated that Seaforce owed only N2,278,420, contrasting with the N5 billion shown in the bank statement obtained by the online newspaper.

Interestingly, the bank statement on the same day indicated a debt of N2.9 billion, differing from the N2 million mentioned in the letter signed by Taofik Bashir (internal audit control) and Edwin Kind Olie (group head, telecom).

Seaforce’s account had transactions amounting to over N16 billion from 2011 to 2024.

Otedola questioned who made payments to reduce the supposed debt from N16,927,628,581.84 to N11,010,924,522.71, as he was unaware of these transactions.

There were credits of N77,169,375.00 on April 18, 2011, N119,822,762.50 on December 1, 2011, N316,537,329.30 on December 8, 2011, N266,361,181.73 on December 15, 2011, and N444,304,524.50 on December 12, 2011.

Currently, Seaforce’s debt stands at N5,916,704,059.13, primarily due to interest charges.

Significant progress has been made in the investigation, with a senior bank official already being questioned by the police. This development marks a crucial step in uncovering the truth behind Seaforce’s financial discrepancies and keeps the reader engaged in the unfolding investigation.

Meanwhile, Zenon, Seaforce, Luzon Oil and Gas, Garment Care Limited, and Otedola have obtained a federal high court injunction against Zenith Bank, Quantum Zenith Securities and Investment, Veritas Registrar, and Central Securities Clearing System, preventing them from trading shares or paying dividends until the hearing of the motion for an interlocutory injunction.

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