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Nigerian Businessman Loses N177.5m To Chinese Fraudster, Sues Bank

A Nigerian businessman, Umegelo Emmanuel, has dragged Zenith Bank Nigeria Plc before the Lagos State High Court in Igbosere after being allegedly swindled out of his N177, 500, 000 by a Chinese, whose name, was given only as Ms Muna.

The businessman is urging the court to compel Zenith Bank to pay him the N177.5m, which he allegedly lost to the Chinese fraudster,,PUNCH reports.

Emmanuel, in his statement of claim before the court, explained that he entered into a business agreement with Muna, who has business interest in Nigeria, for the Chinese to help him purchase some goods from her country, China.

Emmanuel said because of his long-standing banking relationship with Zenith Bank, he insisted that Muna should provide a Zenith Bank account.

The businessman said as a result, the Chinese provided him with a Zenith Bank Account No: 1005689704, with an account name, Xian Fang Li.

Emmanuel said he confirmed that the account existed before transferring the N177.5m into it.

“But shortly after the money was paid into the account, Ms Muna refused to deliver the goods and subsequently stopped picking my calls and blocked all my access to her contact.

“I have visited China twice in search of Ms Muna and had even reported the matter to the Chinese police and the Chinese Embassy but all my efforts to locate the said Ms Muna has proved abortive,” the businessman said.

He said investigation by the police in Nigeria showed that “the utility bills presented in opening the Xiang Fang Li account were fictitious and the signature of one of the purported referees to the Xiang Fang Li account, Mr Kazeem Lawal, was conclusively found to be forged.”

The businessman contended that the bank did not do its due diligence “to verify the true identity of the account holder, the true identity of the referees supplied during the account opening as well as the validity of the account opening documents.”

He is therefore, seeking, among other prayers, “a declaration that the defendant is negligent and reckless in her duties to the claimant and the public in general.”

He wants the court to make an order “mandating the defendant to refund the sum of N177,000,090 to the claimant being the sum lost by the claimant due to the negligence of the defendant.”

He wants the court to award N10m against the bank “as general damages against the defendant for breach of contract.”

Emmanuel wants the money to be paid with 15 per cent interest before judgment and 21 per cent post judgment.

But the bank has urged the court to dismiss the businessman’s suit against it.

While absolving itself of complicity in Emmanuel’s loss, Zenith Bank contended that Emmanuel did not contact it for advice on the alleged business transaction he had with Muna before paying the sum of N177.5 into the supplied account.

“The claimant failed to request a bank guarantee of the alleged sum from or requested that the defendant issue a confirmation or a letter of comfort before dealing with both Ms Muna and Xian Fang Li.”

The court has yet to fix a date to hear the suit.

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