September 21, 2009

N92.9bn recovered as more bank debtors pay up

No decision yet on 14 banks – CBN

By Gabriel Omoh, Innocent Anaba & Emman Ovuakporie

LAGOS — THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has recovered, so far, a total N92.9 billion from the debtors of the five banks, whose Chief Executive Officers and Managing Directors were recently sacked by the Central Bank Governor, Mallam Lamido Sanusi.

The banks are Union Bank of Nigeria Plc; Intercontinental Bank Plc; Finbank Plc; Afribank Plc and Oceanic Bank International Plc.

Meantime, The CBN said, yesterday, that it has not taken any decision on the audit report of the remaining 14 banks, stating that its examiners have submitted the report of 11 banks while making appreciable progress in three of the banks with large foreign shareholders’ interest.

Four of the ex-MDs of the troubled banks, are presently standing trial before a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, alongside nine non-executive Directors and a bank debtor, on five separate charges, bordering on economic sabotage and threats to the economic health of the nation and fraud, concealment and grant of loans without adequate collateral, running into billions of naira

According to EFCC’s spokesperson, Mr. Femi Babafemi, so far, the Commission has recovered from FinBank Nigeria Plc debtors, N3.6 billion; Union Bank of Nigeria Plc debtors, N7.8billion; Intercontinental Bank Plc debtors, N29.5 billion; Afribank Plc debtors, N25.9billion and Oceanic Bank Plc debtors, N26.005billion, making a total N92.9billion.

He added that between Wednesday and Friday last week,  the Commission  recovered an additional N5.9billion to the initial N87billion earlier recovered, bringing the total sum recovered so far to N92.9billion.

According to him, the Commission would, after the Sallah break, intensify efforts to recover more loans owed the five banks, which the CBN said were not well managed, as most of the loans were non-performing.

A source told Vanguard that most of the operatives of the Commission sent to Lagos to help recover the bank debts have been instructed to remain in nation’s economic capital, as they may be needed in the case of the other banks said to be having similar problems, whose report the CBN is yet to release.

The source added, “Chairman of the Commission, Mrs Farida Waziri, though commended the efforts of her men, her major goal is to speedily wrap up the problem of the first five banks and concentrate on the other banks as soon as possible.”

Commenting on the development, Babafemi said, “yes we have recovered a reasonable amount of money but efforts are on to recover more this week by our operatives in Lagos.”

It will be the recalled that the bank chiefs, who were charged to court by the EFCC, were admitted to bail last week and most them have been released upon meeting the bail conditions handed down by the court.

No decision yet on 14 banks
Meanwhile, while dismissing speculations that it has taken a stand on eleven banks which audit report have been concluded, the CBN in a statement said “Based on the reports received so far, the clear indications are that the bulk of the problems have been effectively dealt with in the first audit round”.

The statement signed by M. M. Abdullahi  said “The Central Bank of Nigeria has noted with concern stories in some segments of the press purporting to report decisions taken as a result of the second batch of audit of Nigerian banks. The CBN wishes to confirm that examiners have concluded their audit on 11 out of 14 banks not included in the first exercise.

“They have also made significant progress on the remaining three banks and these are Citibank, Stanbic IBTC and Standard Chartered.

“The CBN also confirms that the completed reports are due to be presented to and deliberated upon by the Committee of Governors of CBN and the Executive Committee of the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation in the next two weeks.

“It is only after this process is completed that final decisions will be taken. The CBN urges the press to exercise restraint in its speculation to enable the process go through all its rigorous stages given the importance of this exercise. This is the same process that was followed for the first 10 banks.

“Journalists are hereby urged to exercise utmost restraint while awaiting the decision of the regulatory authorities on these banks. For emphasis, no decision has so far been taken on these 14 banks” the statement said.