Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has said that the on-going investigation of some financial transactions in some banks by law enforcement authorities are aimed at strengthening the financial sector and the economy.
The apex bank, in a statement signed by Acting Director, Corporate Communications, Isaac Okorafor, advised the banking public and indeed other stake-holders not be afraid of the exercise as all the banks would continue to do their normal businesses and meet their obligations. CBN said it was fully aware and was indeed a part of the on-going investigations of certain financial transactions in some banks by law enforcement authorities, noting that it was also carrying out its own special examinations and investigations to ascertain the veracity of some allegations, as well as the extent and persons that might be involved in such activities.
“The Bank would like to reiterate that financial system stability remains a priority and therefore assures customers and stakeholders that it would not allow the banking system to be used as a conduit for any illicit transactions. “Some of these investigations are routine and only relate to isolated transactions, therefore it is important to state that the safety and soundness of the Nigerian banking industry remain strong,” CBN said. It would be recalled that Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, few weeks ago arrested the Managing Director of Fidelity Bank, Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo, and some of his senior staff in connection with the $115m slush fund routed through the bank by former Petroleum Resources Minister, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, for electioneering purposes.
The $115m was contributed by several oil companies, with Diezani herself, donating over $25m, all converted into N23.3bn to bribe officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to support a second term efforts of former president, Goodluck Jonathan, in the 2015 election. Managing Director of Access Bank, Herbert Wigwe, and Sterling Bank CEO, Yemi Adeola, were also picked up last week. Media reports revealed that operatives of EFFC arrested the two bank MDs over money laundering investigations currently being undertaken by the antigraft body.
A source disclosed that Wigwe was allegedly quizzed regarding funds laundered through the bank by officials of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA.