AMCON Takes Over Senator Ben Murray-Bruce’s Companies Over N11bn Debt | Independent Newspapers Limited
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AMCON Takes Over Senator Ben Murray-Bruce’s Companies Over N11bn Debt

Senator Ben Murray-Bruce
Posted: Jun 24, 2016 at 4:30 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) on Thursday took over the assets of three companies belonging to Ben Murray-Bruce, a businessman and senator representing Bayelsa East Senatorial district.

The companies taken over by the ‘bad bank’ are Silverbird Galleria Limited, Silverbird Promotions Limited, and Silverbird Showtime Limited.

AMCON in a statement said it has since appointed M.A Banire (SAN) as receiver/manager over the sprawling assets of the three companies located at Central Area, Cadastral Zone, AOO Plot No. 1161, Abuja; Abonnema Wharf Road and Abali Park in Port Harcourt, Rivers State as well as at 133 Ahmadu Bello Way, Lagos, where the Silverbird Galleria is located.

According to AMCON, the takeover followed the Federal High Court, Lagos Division ruling on Friday, June 17, 2016, granting interim injunction against Silverbird Productions Limited, Silverbird Showtime Limited, Silverbird Galleria Limited and Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, Guy Murray-Bruce, Roy Murray-Bruce and Janthan Murray-Bruce on its application.

In the statement by Jude Nwauzor, Head, Corporate Communications, AMCON, Justice C.M.A. Olatoregun, the presiding judge, while granting the order on the application of counsel to AMCON, restrained Senator Ben Murray-Bruce and other obligors that owe AMCON over N11 billion from challenging, interfering with or otherwise obstructing or frustrating the receiver (M.A Banire SAN) appointed by AMCON over the fixed and floating assets of the listed companies belonging to the Murray-Bruce family.

It said the senator who would not repay the huge debt owed AMCON has been in protracted negotiations.

AMCON said contrary to news making the rounds since the takeover, it did not shut down the concerned companies. “We appointed a receiver that took over the companies in the early hours of Thursday, June 23, 2016 as ordered by the Federal High Court and the receiver would be responsible for the companies on behalf of AMCON going forward”, it said.

Ben Murray-Bruce had been critical of President Muhammadu Buhari’s policies.

He was recently ruffled by presidential security detail during a dinner with the president because he breached “elementary protocol”.

An infuriated Murray-Bruce had shortly after the feast taken to his Twitter page to protest the way he was treated, suggesting that the action was meted out to him because of his criticism of Buhari’s policies.

“I was at the Presidential Villa today. Went to the President’s table. DSS wouldn’t allow me greet him but let another Senator greet him!” Murray-Bruce tweeted.

A few minutes later, the lawmaker responded to a Twitter user who challenged him on his claim, saying, “Kadir, if PMB’s handlers selectively block access to him, he runs the risk of being surrounded only by sycophants!”

“My critics say I shouldn’t criticise the president openly, so I go and meet him one on one and I’m blocked. Am I not a Nigerian citizen?”

Senator Ben Murray-Bruce is a director of several companies in Nigeria including Silverbird Television, Rhythm 93.7 FM radio station and Silverbird Galleria spread across Nigeria and Ghana. He also promotes Silverbird’s Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria (MBGN), a beauty pageant that produced the likes of Omasan Buwa, Bianca Onoh and Agbani Darego.

In 2011, Murray-Bruce ran for the governorship of Bayelsa State, which was unsuccessful after he was screened out of the gubernatorial race under the umbrella of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

But on October 27, 2014, he declared his intention to represent Bayelsa East Senatorial District at the National Assembly under the umbrella of the PDP, which he went on to win.

It would be recalled that 400 obligors of AMCON account for more than N4.5 trillion, which is approximately 80 percent of the total outstanding loan balance of the corporation’s over twelve thousand accounts. The corporation said that obligors have become recalcitrant over time despite its obvious efforts.

The statement noted that to deal with the situation, however, AMCON recently increased the tempo of its recovery activities using firmer negotiation strategies as well as utilising the special enforcement powers vested by the AMCON Act to compel some of its recalcitrant debtors especially those that are politically exposed and business heavyweights to repay their debts.

In a tweet, Murray-Bruce said, “I have been on an international flight and have only just landed. The situation is being resolved and things will be back to normal.

“In 36 years, Silverbird has grown and like anybody, it will face challenges. Tough times don’t last. But we, as tough people, outlast them”.