The Island Bank, a Sao Tome-based Nigerian-owned bank that has declared bankruptcy, has been sold to Nigeria’s Energy Bank, the governor of the central bank of Sao Tome and Principe, Maria do Carmo Silveira said.
Speaking to radio station Rádio Nacional, the governor said shareholders had been given the option to go into liquidation or to sell the business to whoever was interested in investing in it, which was what happened with the sale to Energy Bank, which is also owned by Nigerian investors.
Island Bank, which was set up in Sao Tome by Nigeria’s Marc Wabara, filed for bankruptcy a few months after its owner was arrested in Nigeria for alleged involvement in fraudulent use of over US$70 million belonging to the State of Sao Tome.
According to Portuguese news agency Lusa, the US$70 million is the part owed to Sao Tome and Principe from the US$120 million auction of Block 1 of the Joint Development Zone (JDZ) between the two countries and which had been deposited in Nigeria’s Hallmark Bank.
Carmo Silveira also mentioned Angolan-owned bank Banco do Equador, which is facing liquidity problems, denying that the state was moving in to resolve these issues but that the bank’s activities were limited “and all operations are being carried out under the control of the Central Bank.”
There are currently eight commercial banks operating in Sao Tome and Principe, one of which, Banco Internacional de São Tomé e Príncipe, has a 70 percent share of the market. (macauhub/ST)