Ordinarily, oil magnate Dr. Festus Fadeyi ought to be one of the leading figures of the Yoruba aristocracy and Nigerian entrepreneur class. Of course, not a few were highly conscious of his wealth and status. But wealth is a fickle thing. It isn’t as tangible as people like to think. Whether your wealth is in the form of ivory, gold, or crude oil, it can all vanish — and fast. Of course, it isn’t always bad economies that cost fortunes. Sometimes it’s bad business decisions. And sometimes, it’s because the fortunes were based on financial malfeasances.
For Fadeyi, it won’t be a misnomer to call him a former billionaire. He seems to have gotten to that threshold in his life when brooding tragedy and its dark shadows can only be lightened by recalling great moments of the past.
Fadeyi was loaded to the hilt with choice properties across highbrow areas of Lagos and other cities across the world. The bubble, however, burst when the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON, took over his company’s assets and those of its subsidiaries over huge bank loans that led to the death of a Nigerian bank. It would be recalled that a report by some independent auditors revealed that Fadeyi —via his Pan Ocean Group— cumulatively secured a total of more than N240 billion (almost half of the total debt of defunct Skye Bank) thus making him the most heavily indebted entity to the bank. The remaining huge debt is owed by nine other customers of the bank. Fadeyi, through Pan Ocean, took those loans —considered one of the biggest loan portfolios in the country— to fund the firm’s oil and gas upstream projects operated under Joint Operating Agreements and Production Sharing Contracts with and on behalf of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). Unfortunately, a case of conflict of interest was established against the oil magnate as this large debt was incurred in the bank when he (Fadeyi) was represented on the board by his New York-based son, Dr. Jason Fadeyi while Tunde Ayeni, was chairman of the bank. But due to whatever circumstances, he was not able to repay this heavy indebtedness to the bank leading to the eventual takeover by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON, about two years ago. Based on this, AMCON embarked on the recovery of the bad debts. Fadeyi was however recently stripped bare of his luxury homes and other properties over those huge debts.
He was stripped of his stately family mansion named Grand Villa sitting on a vast expanse of land on billionaires’ avenue of Modupe Alakija Crescent in swanky Ikoyi, Lagos. Seized by AMCON alongside that eye-popping Ikoyi mansion, which had served as the Fadeyi family’s home for several decades, are other choice properties include his FF Towers and Ark Towers both on Ligali Ayorinde Avenue, Victoria Island, Lagos; two other properties on Modupe Alakija Crescent; two properties on Samuel Manuwa Street, Victoria Island; and another property on Adebayo Doherty Street, off Admiralty Way, Lekki Phase 1.
Like a double whammy, Fadeyi is facing another battle over the ownership of his age-long oil company, Pan Ocean Corporation with the family of late Italian Oil magnate Vittorio Fabbri, the founder of InterOcean Oil Development Company and Inter Ocean Oil Exploration Company. It was gathered that Fabbri’s two companies reportedly claimed 40 per cent stakes in Fadeyi’s Pan Ocean Oil Corporation’s Oil Mining License, OML 98, — while the NNPC owns the remaining 60 per cent. Since the death of the family’s patriarch, Fabbri, in 1998, his family has been battling with Fadeyi over Inter Ocean entities as the beneficial owners of the 40 per cent stake in the OML. In September 2013, having failed to wrestle control of the company, the Fabbri initiated an arbitration proceeding against NNPC and Federal Government at the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, ICSID, —Nigeria is a signatory to the centre set up to facilitate the resolution of disputes between investors and the signatory countries to the ICSID Convention.
In June 2020, the ICSID received formal observations from both parties on their adversary’s statement of costs, the last documents needed before a ruling is issued. As this saga is finally coming to an end, Spotlight gathered that this fresh challenge has exacerbated the old man’s woes as he’s not sure where the pendulum of the case will tilt.