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Atuche demands $1.965m unpaid bonus from BankPHB

By Omoh Gabriel, Business Editor
Indications emerged, yesterday, that BankPHB may be heading for more trouble as its former Managing Director, Mr. Francis Atuche, is said to have demanded from the bank payment for his four years off-shore allowance which he did not collect following the payment of same to the new MD who worked for only three months and collected $120,000 leave allowance.

Vanguard gathered that the former MD is asking for his allowance post- consolidation which amounts to $1,965,000 following reports that the caretaker MD of the bank collected his one year full off-shore allowance after three months in the bank.

A break down of the allowance due to the former MD from the bank showed that for 2006, he was entitled to $300,000; in 2007 he was entitled to another $300,000 while for 2008 and 2009, he was entitled to $450,000 each of the years.

According to sources, the former MD has 262 days of vacation period unutilised and since a working year in the bank is 250 days, he has another $450,000 off-shore living allowance in 2010 and a full year basic salary of  N100m.

BankPHB, insiders also told Vanguard, that contrary to the claims by the embattled MD of Bank PHB, Mr. Cyril Chukwumah, that he slashed the former CEO’s salary by 47 per cent as his own pay to save cost, documented evidence from the Bank sighted by Vanguard showed that the MD, in carrying out CBN’s instruction for troubled banks to cut salary by 30  per cent across the board, only cut his salary by 18 per cent, whereas he cut the remuneration of executive directors by 27 per cent, and other categories of staff by 30 per cent to 35 per cent.

The CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi had told Vanguard in November that “When we invited the CEOs and Eds to come and run the banks and in some cases the (Eds) to leave their well paying positions in good banks and do this national service we told them to take the existing approved pay structure in the banks but without bonuses. A number of them are going to slash salaries across the board in the light of current realities and this is to save cost”.

The apex bank in an official letter to the troubled banks said “we request that you take the following steps immediately to check the dwindling operating performance of the bank, Immediately reduce executive and other staff emoluments by at least 30 per cent and submit an action plan for branch and staff rationalisation in order to utilize some hidden economies of scale in bank’s operations; Submit your plan of action for enhanced revenue generation and cost reduction for the next six months. Kindly forward the above information not later than Friday, November 6, 2009″.

But the former Managing Director, Mr. Francis Atuche, from sighted documents was on a salary of N100 million per annum, but Mr. Chukwumah, on assumption of office in October 2009, with a CBN mandate to review remuneration, reduced his salary to N 82 million, 18 per cent reduction; executive directors’ salary cut to N 50 million from N 70 million, 27 per cent; while a Manager’s salary was reduced from N15 million to N 10 million, 33 per cent; a DGM’s salary from N 26 million to N 18 million, 32 per cent; an AGM’s salary was cut from N 22 million to N 14 million, 36 per cent.

But Mr Chukwuma in an interactive session with journalist last week explained that controversial $120,000 one-year leave allowance, which he collected after spending only 72 days in office, was his entitlement. He said that the CBN term of contract with him was fixed for two years and does not require confirmation clause before qualifying to draw on the allowance.

He said the time he took the money was the best time for him to take his annual vacation as it was the least busy period for the bank. He stated that he had to “review downwards the allowances from the prevailing $450,000 which the former CEO usually collects to $120,000 as part of his personal contribution for the survival of the bank.”

However, with the demand notice from Atuche to the board of the bank for payment of overseas allowance from 2006-2009 showed that the former CEO never collected his leave allowance between 2006 and 2009.


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