Stakeholders Indict CBN Over EFCC Banks’ Probe | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Stakeholders Indict CBN Over EFCC Banks’ Probe

Posted: May 11, 2016 at 5:12 am   /   by   /   comments (0)



Alao Salimon



As the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) commences new round of investigation on deposit money banks (DMBs) to affirm their complicity in the alleged sleaze money making the rounds, shareholders have accused the apex bank of being lax in its supervisory role.

The position of shareholders, who expressed their views on the ongoing probe, said CBN should be blamed for allowing the banks go this far before the alarm was raised by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The EFCC had arrested Nnamdi Okonkwo, the Managing Director of Fidelity Bank, for allegedly receiving $115 million from the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, and allegedly disbursed same to politicians and electoral officials in the build-up to the 2015 general election. But the bank said the transaction was duly reported to the relevant agencies. The anti-graft operatives on May 6 stormed the headquarters of Access Bank in relation to the $115 million and also interrogated the managing director, Herbert Wigwe. The EFCC also stormed the headquarters of Sterling Bank Plc in Lagos for an undisclosed investigation, quizzing its managing director, Yemi Adeola.

Following these raids, arrests and detention of the managing directors by the EFCC, the CBN says it is also carrying out its own special examinations and investigations to ascertain the veracity of some of the allegations against the banks’ chiefs.

The stakeholders equally accused CBN of playing to gallery by commencing another round of examination because of discoveries by the EFCC.

Mr. Sunny Nwosu, National Coordinator, Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN), on Tuesday said though they (shareholders) are following the development closely and looking at those issues dispassionately with a view to coming out with a position later, CBN as regulator of banks should be blamed for allowing the situation degenerate to this level before raising the alarm.

“CBN is culprit because they supervise those banks. We should also blame those banks for colluding with politicians to loot public funds. What EFCC is doing, by making chain issue out of it is not good as if anybody close to politicians is a thief. They should be decent about it but we are looking at the issue dispassionately to come out with a position”, Nwosu said.

Another shareholder, Mr. Boniface Okezie, Chairman, Progressive Shareholders Association of Nigeria, said banks should have learnt their lessons from what happened in 2007 and 2008 when many banks went under as a result of unethical practices in share manipulation.

He said they should know that politicians will come and go but banking should be protected by playing by the rules of the game.

“It is obvious that some bankers will soon lose their jobs because of the ongoing probe, look at the bailout funds giving to state governments and the way governors are diverting it to other means. Banks should raise the alarm whenever something is going wrong. They should not wait till the issue has gone out of hands.

“It is not wrong for them to accept deposit or pay money out but they should raise the alarm whenever they see abnormality or somebody comes to them for unethical issues. Banks should not be lured into malpractices by the politicians, it is not good for their image nor the image of their owners”, Okezie said.

It is being speculated that the EFCC revelations could cause a run on some banks and drastic fall in stock market capitalisation as foreign investors take exit from the market due to poor reports on the banking industry and low level of confidence.

Okezie said, “From the look of things now, foreign investors will have negative perception of our banks and reluctant to bring money into the stock market. This is not good for our economy. Banks should tell the truth because there is issue of moral burden on them to do so at all time.”

CBN, on Monday, has said that it was carrying out special investigations into the roles played by banks in certain financial transactions, especially the $115 million reportedly shared to officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) by officials of the former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration to influence the outcome of the last general elections.

The apex bank’s Acting Director, Corporate Communications Department, Mr. Isaac Okoroafor, said special investigations would enable the CBN to determine the level of involvement of the banks as well as persons involved in questionable financial transactions.

There are reports that the EFCC may arrest some bank chief executive officers this week as part of the ongoing probe of the $115 million scam.