19 August 2009

Nigeria: EFCC Arrests 3 Sacked Bank Chiefs, Declares Ibru, Akingbola Wanted

Three of the five sacked chief executive officers of the bailed out banks have spent the night in custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Lagos while the remaining two have been declared wanted by the anti-graft body.

Mr. Sebastin Adigwe of Afribank, Mr. Okey Nwosu of Finbank and Mr. Barth Ebong of Union Bank were arrested yesterday for questioning, while Mrs. Cecilia Ibru of Oceanic Bank and Mr. Erastus Akingbola of International Bank were being sought, spokesman for EFCC Femi Babafemi said.

Also arrested yesterday were nine managing directors of subsidiary companies of the five banks. They are Peter Ololo (Falcon Securities), Ayodele Thomas (Intercontinental Capital Markets), Abiodun Taiwo (Intercontinental Finance & Investment), Abubakar Magaji (Intercontinental Trustees), Adeboyin Adeoye (Intercontinental Securities), Ahmed Buruike (First Inland Securities), Emmanuel Okonji (First Inland Capital), Felicia Thomas (Oceanic Trustees) and Regina Enyia (Oceanic Securities). They are all being held in Lagos.

The EFCC said the remaining former executive directors of the five banks were also being sought and that they would be declared wanted if they do not show up by the end of yesterday.

"We have threatened to declare them 'wanted' because we have been looking for them since yesterday (Monday)," Reuters news agency quoted Babafemi saying.

"The chairman (of EFCC) has been briefed that they have fled their homes but one good step taken by the commission is that they have all been watch listed so it is difficult for them to escape out of the country," Babafemi told Daily Trust yesterday.

The Central Bank of Nigeria last Friday injected N400 billion into Afribank, Finbank, Intercontinental Bank, Oceanic Bank and Union Bank and sacked their chief executives. CBN Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi said lax governance had allowed the banks to become so weakly capitalised they posed a threat to the banking system in the country. He promised to prosecute anybody found guilty of misconduct.

"The commission and the Central Bank have been working together on this matter; it's not something that started today or yesterday and the meeting took place in furtherance of joint effort. The commission at the moment is on with full action to ensure that what we need to do is done," the EFCC spokesman said.

The former top executives of the five banks have been placed on a security watch list dispatched to other security outfits to abort attempts to travel outside of the country, the EFCC said.

EFCC has already recovered N5billion out of N18billion credit facility granted by an undisclosed bank.

The anti-graft commission started investigating the activities of these banks since March and has been sharing intelligence information with CBN.

EFCC chairman Farida Waziri recently met with the bank executives in Lagos after preliminary investigations revealed credit facilities running into several billions were granted and as a result the banks were collapsing.

"At that meeting she read the riot act to them and went ahead to do the little we could do to help them out of the problem, but when CBN made its decision public on Friday we moved in and put them under surveillance," an official of the commission said, asking not to be named.

CBN Governor Sanusi said on Friday when he announced the bailout: "Anybody, managing director, executive director, director, officers, debtor, anybody that is found that has broken the law will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law."

After Mrs. Waziri assumed office as chairman in June last year, she promised to beam her searchlight on banks. In May, EFCC arraigned Patrick Fernandez, a Nigeria-based Indian businessman before a Federal High court in Lagos who obtained N32billion loan from some banks. The commission upon investigation discovered that the loans were given without any written application. Also the commission arrested one Ademosu akinfunmi who obtained N17 billion credit facility from Intercontinental Bank which he failed to pay.

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