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5,000 debtors have gone into hiding – AMCON

The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria has said that over 5,000 debtors have gone into hiding, with some of them changing their addresses.

AMCON was established by the Federal Government in 2010 to buy bad debts from banks and ensure stability in the financial sector.

The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, AMCON, Mr. Ahmed Kuru, at a press briefing in Lagos on Friday, stated that the corporation bought 14,000 non-performing loans, adding, “We borrowed money to buy those loans; so, we also are struggling to pay back the loans.”

He also said, “There are quite a lot of obligors that cannot pay because they don’t have the ability to pay. Quite a lot of them have gone into hiding. More than 4,000 to 5,000 (of the debtors) and that was why, if you recall, not long ago, we had to do some substituted service because some of them have decided to change their addresses.

“The import of our advert is that hiding will not help; we just want to talk to you. We are not the EFCC. To borrow money is not criminal; we must take money from banks. However, what you do after is what will make it criminal. Most loans are taken from depositors’ money.”

Kuru said the bulk of the information being used by the corporation was provided by the financial institutions from which the debts were bought.

He said, “One basic information that is required is the address because when you are going to recover money, the first thing is: what is the person’s address? We bought 14,000 loans, and when you talk about 14,000 businesses and individuals, it is not a small number.

“What our initial analysis has shown is that there are about 350 businesses that account for almost 85 per cent of the exposure. And those 350 substantially are identifiable, only that some of the businesses have changed locations.”

Kuru said quite a lot of people had moved offices in Lagos and Abuja as a result of the financial crisis of 2008/2009 and subsequent events.

He said, “It requires a lot of legwork and intelligence work for you to be able to trace them. That is why initially we introduced this Asset Management Partners programme. In AMCON, we are less than 400 workers. So, it is not possible for 400 people to pursue 14,000 businesses; so we have given out more 7,000 of those accounts to the asset management partners.

“I strongly believe that it is not practically possible for us to trace the 14,000 obligors but what is important for us is to be able to track the major ones that represent more than 80 per cent of our obligations so that we don’t waste too much time on the lower ones but outsource them and the AMPs can trace them.”