The crisis between Access bank Plc and African Petroleum Plc managements deepened yesterday as Access Bank insisted that African Petroleum Plc must re-pay its $35 million loan facility on N127 per dollar rather than N116.62 per dollar when the transaction was consummated two years ago.
The bank in a statement in Lagos yesterday said the decision arose from the agreement the two parties entered into on December 17, 2008 where the offer letters detailed the terms and dynamics of the facility including that the facility was subject to possible exchange rate risk and this risk remains the primary obligation of the customer and that there is no obligation on the part of the bank to provide the customer with funds either in local or foreign currency to repay any exposure from the utilization of the facility.
But the chief operating officer of AP Tunde Falasinu described the decision of the bank as ridiculous, saying the company was ready to pay at N116.62 per dollar once the bank agreed.
He said AP had made its position known to Access Bank through a letter dated June 3, 2009.
Giving details and genesis of the crisis, he said the debt arose from a $50 million facility on May 12, 2008 for the purpose of importing petroleum products through a letter of credit. On July 25, 2008 a letter of credit was opened in favour of Glencore Energy UK Limited on our behalf by Access Bank.
AP registered a Form M with the Central Bank (CBN) and a letter of credit was opened at the rate of N116 to the dollar.
According to him, trouble started when Access Bank on December 2, 2008 sent a debit advice, saying that the money should be paid using an exchange rate of N127 to the dollar.
He said “We are still awaiting the decision of CBN on the matter before we saw the advertorial requesting for the winding up of the company. The request sounds very ridiculous. We cannot just allow ourselves to be cheated because if we pay that amount, the bank is ripping us off to the tune of N440 million in just one transaction”, he said.
But Access Bank said yesterday that on July 25, 2008 an letter of credit was opened on behalf of AP in favour of Glencore which was due for payment on 30th Novemeber. On 12th November, 2008, 18 days before the payment date.