The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has suspended some of its top officials over multi-million naira fraud by the apex bank Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele.
THIS DAY reports that they were suspended for failing to follow financial regulations and due process, leading to the scamming of the bank by fraudsters of huge sum of money.
Those suspended include Deputy Governor, Financial System Surveillance, Joseph Nnanna, deputy director in charge of payment, the deputy director trade and exchange department, and the deputy director in the office of the governor.
After preliminary findings, it was revealed that they might be culpable. The apex bank said it discovered what it described as a highly sophisticated plot to defraud the bank by some people.
In a statement issued by the acting director, corporate communications, Isaac Okoroafor, he explained that while the preliminary investigations had not revealed any accomplices within the bank, some personnel within the CBN had been placed on suspension.
Though the nature of the fraud was not specified in the statement, there was a need to place the officials on suspension in order for proper investigations to be carried out by the relevant authorities.
“A highly sophisticated plot to defraud the CBN by some criminally minded elements has been uncovered and aborted by the bank.
“Although preliminary investigations so far have not revealed any accomplices within the CBN, the management has decided to place all key personnel involved in the transaction on suspension.
“This is to ensure a full and unfettered investigation. This incidence has been reported to the relevant authorities,” the statement reads.
The bank assured stakeholders in the banking sector that the security within the central bank remains intact and had not been breached.
However, experts said said the CBN as a regulator is saddled with responsibilities that make it prone to corruption.
Reacting to the development, Mr. David Adonri, an economic and financial services expert, who is also chief executive officer of Highcap Securities, said: “The CBN is a banker to the Federal Government; it is also in charge of the foreign exchange market; it is also in charge of regulating the banks.
“In some countries, those functions are separated. The CBN is allocating forex to banks. There have been lots of cries that some are favourerd while others are not favoured. This is something that can breed corruption. There are two ways to allocate scarce resources, namely administration and market. That of administration is not always effective in allocating scarce resources. It is only the market that can do a good job. With the implementation of the Treasury Single Account, the CBN is now more of a banker than a regulator. That is another thing that can breed corruption. The CBN is being saddled with more responsibilities that have to do with banking rather than being a regulator. The attempted fraud allegation is very disappointing, discouraging and is not expected to be coming from the regulator. This is what happens when the regulator also plays the role of a player,” he said.
Reacting also to the development, an ex-banker and chief executive officer, Cowry Assets Management Limited, Mr. Johnson Chukwu, praised the apex bank for having what he described as a robust internal control system to interrupt fraud.
”The fraud attempt was unsuccessful, so it is a plus and indicates that the CBN has a robust internal control process. It shows the level of desperation of people to make money. This kind of thing usually happens in the financial services sector, but the key thing is to ensure there is robust system to intercept it,” he said.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives on Thursday, February 25 summoned the minister of Finance Kemi Adeosun, CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele, the Accountant General of the Federation Ahmed Idris and Minister of Budget and National Planning.