Societe Generale Bank, re-incarnates as Heritage Bank and commences full operations March 4
| By Augustine Adah | Feb. 18, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT
AT last, succour has come the way of depositors of the beleaguered Societe Generale Bank of Nigeria, SGBN. Last week, Heritage Bank Company, HBC, which acquired the assets and liabilities of SGBN began the verification which will enable it to pay several depositors of the defunct bank. Licensed as a regional bank, the HBC started its one month validation exercise on January 29, in Lagos, for South-West, Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, and Port Harcourt, for South-South zone.
The verification exercise offered depositors three options. The first option gives the depositor an opportunity to collect all the deposits with the bank. Any depositor taking the option will have to wait until March 4, when the bank will commence full operations.
The second option gives depositors the opportunity to collect 30 percent of their total verified deposit instantly, while the remaining 70 percent would be retained with the bank until it resumes full operations. In the third option, those who want to collect part of their deposits will be given a new account number to continue business with the new bank.
Since the exercise began in three centres in Lagos, there has been very poor response from depositors.
At the Lagos Television Multipurpose hall, Agindigbi, Ikeja, one of the centres in Lagos, only a few depositors were said to have come forward for the process. Nonetheless, those who turned up for exercise were happy that they would get their money back despite the long years of waiting.
A depositor, who wishes anonymity, said he went through a traumatic experience during the period SGBN shut its door against customers. “It was not quite a month after I retired from Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and went to deposit all my retirement benefits in the bank that the incident happened,” he said. The former bank official said he was happy that he would soon be able to enjoy his retirement benefits.
Paul Ibrahim, another customer of the bank in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, was elated when he heard the news of the validation. He vowed to close his account with the bank by withdrawing all his money when it begins operations by March. “I don’t want to continue banking with the new bank because I would have died throughout the period the SGBN was distressed; it was the mercy of God that saved me. The money I went to deposit in the bank a week before the closure was not my money, it belonged to my brother in-law,” Ibrahim said.
One of the staff of the consulting firm handling the validation exercise, who wishes anonymity, stated that the bank has made all necessary arrangements to avoid distress. She revealed that the list of all the branches of the new bank would be made public before the end of the month. She assured those that still want to continue business with the bank that their money would be guaranteed.
Josephine Aligweke, group head, Corporate Affairs, Heritage Bank, confirmed the preparedness of the new bank to commence business beginning with the validation of account holders of SGBN which started from January 29. The exercise will last for four weeks.
The CBN had on December 27, 2012, approved the licence of the bank to operate as a commercial bank. The letter conveying CBN’s approval of the banking licence showed that major shareholders in the new bank include International Energy Insurance, PLC, with Ifie Sekibo as the executive vice-chairman and the Saraki family.
The operational licence of SGBN was revoked by the CBN in January 2006, when the bank failed to meet the new N25 billion minimum recapitalisation for commercial banks at that time. The bank challenged the action in court and won in 2009.