EMBEZZLEMENT : HOW RABOBANK BANKRUPTED A MAJOR CERTIFIED WOOD PROCESSING PLANT IN CAMEROON



By blocking a transfer of 06 million euros, intended to finance the company Transformation Reef Cameroon (TRC), Rabobank has caused the bankruptcy of the Cameroonian forester; which was already heavily impacted by an unbalanced exclusive distribution agreement with Reef Hout, after the split of their holding company: Reef Group.


According to the liquidators, TRC would have survived a certain bankruptcy only if it had been able to cash the 06 million euros lodged in the bank account of the company Reef Group domiciled in Holland. In August 2009, the pan-African investment group released 6 million euros in financing for the modernization of forestry equipment and the wood processing plant in Douala, all in accordance with the FSC certification already obtained by TRC. The money will be placed in the account of its then parent company, Reef Group, which at the end of 2010 - due to management conflicts - will be split into two independent entities: Reef Out Netherlands and TRC- Cameroon. While the money could only finance projects on the African continent, it will be sequestered by the Rabobank in Holland.


"The supervisory board took a drastic decision by approving the complete split of the Reef Group, following numerous frictions with the brothers Paul and Hubert Reef, who at the time held 49% of the shares of Reef Group. Franc Van Rooijen, who held 06% of Reef Group, managed to obtain 55% of the shares of one of the two start-ups Reef Hout, while the brothers left with only 55% of TRC Cameroon. The pan-African investment group can only finance private sector investments in sub-Saharan and North Africa," said TRC's appointed liquidator.


"At a meeting with the Dutch bank on March 14, 2011, which was attended by Mr. Eijkelkamp, a member of the supervisory board of Reef Group, the bank indicated to the CEO of Reef Group that no assets should be transferred to TRC in Cameroon," the liquidator maintains.


Currently, the Pan African Investment Group and Afriland First Bank Cameroon are suing Rabobank in Holland for the non-transfer of 06 million euros as part of the investment that the fund wanted to make in TRC. "An amount of 857,867.12 euros relating to processed wood prefinanced by Afriland First Bank and intended for export was lost because the Dutch bank has not met its commitments, "says the liquidator who is indignant that more than 1,300 direct jobs have been lost in Cameroon.


Stifling to the end


Learning of the development of a plan to allow TRC to continue its activities, Rabobank will seize, in 2012, goods of TRC in the port of Amsterdam (part of the order made by Reef Hout) by requesting the early repayment of a loan, while the seized products already belonged to Afriland First Bank Cameroon, under a financing agreement. With an estimated value of 1,300,000 euros at the port of Amsterdam, the Rabobank, according to its statements, would have sold these goods for 200,000 euros to a company it owns. Embezzling in passing 1,100,000 euros. For having tried to oppose it, 25 people within the bank would be threatened today.


For its recovery, TRC will contact an expert in the field of wood processing and forestry who will confirm the possibilities of recovery, provided that the 06 million euros of the Pan African Investment Group - still housed in the Dutch bank - are finally available and the reimbursement of costs incurred by Afriland First Bank. "It should also break the totally unfair commercial agreement between Reef Hout and TRC which does not allow, for example, the development of a combination of products to achieve profitability," the specialist hammers.

This article is the first in a series of three, we will tell you more in the next one which will be published on June 21, 2021.

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