It is no longer news that the Federal Government through the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) assumed ownership of Afribank, Bank PHB and Spring Bank via the “Bridge Bank” mechanism following the revocation of their licences by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
This means the three banks will still be open to customers and continue to operate normally under the control of three bridge banks created by the NDIC to assume their assets.
The bridge banks are Enterprise Bank Limited, to assume assets of Spring Bank; Keystone Bank Limited, to assume assets of Bank PHB; and MainStreet Bank Limited, which will assume assets of Afribank.
But what many people did not know is that contrary to the CBN Governor’s claim that the banks are not healthy and had not shown all necessary capacity and ability to recapitalise before the September 30th given to them by the CBN to recapitalise, before the former managing directors of Afribank and BankPHB respectively finally quit the banks, they were alleged to have approved and paid to themselves the sums of N800m and N650m respectively as severance allowance for the job they took over in August 2009 when the CBN put the hammer on Union Bank, Intercontinental Bank, Finbank, Oceanic Bank, Afribank and BankPHB, and injected N620b as bailout for failing to pass the stress test conducted for them by CBN. The reasons given for the takeover were undercapitalisation and mismanagement.
Many see the actions of these bankers as gross indiscipline, given that they were asked to steer the banks back to healthy position. Their acts since taking over the banks however show that they are all out to run the banks aground. It was further learnt that the bank directors that served with them also laughed away with money alleged to be running into millions of naira each.
This is a wicked and callous action, concerned shareholders said about the severance packages alleged. Stakeholders were unhappy that those being paid off were unable to get the banks recapitalized before the withdrawal of their licences and takeover by the Asset Management Company ofNigeria, AMCON.
The two banks MDs have been accused of corruption and gross misconduct for spending the banks’ money recklessly and lining their pockets with billions of naira.
Before now, Afribank has had a running battle with its staff, who complained of gross malfeasance on the part of the management. A whistleblower has petitioned the EFCC over the actions of some executive directors who they are accusing of undermining the wellbeing of Afribank.
The petition, which was addressed to Farida Waziri, the Chairman of the EFCC, is dated March 27, 2011. It was received and stamped April 11, 2011, by the office of the EFCC chairman. The petition alleged that the executive directors were involved in a N1.2 billion scam barely two years after they assumed office. Also, an addendum to the first petition dated April 17, 2011, and signed by the whistleblower, described how the scam in Afribank was being perpetrated: “Christopher Anammah, executive director, Institutional Banking, instructs the group financial controller at regular intervals to make funds transfer to a designated branch Inter-Branch Account ostensibly with the tacit approval of the group managing director. When the money is transferred into the destined branch, Nimat Munir, a courier, who is an Afribank staff in Wealth Management Department based in Abuja, is instructed by the executive director to encash the monies and deliver same to the executive director at his hotel room in Abuja.”
It was further learnt that prior to this, the executive director would have travelled toAbujato await and collect the cash. “The lady is said to be a mere courier who was acting out instructions issued to her and completely innocent of the scam. Oftentimes, these monies are wired through Afribank Burean De Change, where the monies are converted to Dollars,” the petition said.
“Your investigations should reveal how they have perpetrated these without infringing on the relevant Central Bank ofNigeria, Forex/Bureau De Change regulations. Whatever happened to these monies afterwards, your guess is as good as mine and I am convinced your investigation should reveal.
“From every indication, my initial petition in which the amount salted away by these supposed “change executives” was estimated at N1.2 billion may be a child’s play after all, as my facts are limited to only two of the branches listed above, through which these nefarious activities have been perpetrated over the months.” The petition doubted that all the fraud could have been perpetrated without the group managing director’s approval. “It remains to be seen. But I have my doubts that the fraud could have been possible. Could the executive director, institutional banking, and the group managing director have been working in league towards the same end? I strongly suspect so, considering that the executive director, Mr. Nnamdi Christopher Anammah, is not just a long time acquaintance of Mr. Nebolisa Arah but, indeed, his nephew.”
According to the petition, Anammah is the son of Nebolisa’s female relative and he sponsored his education. “Is there something about the executive director’s pedigree that could have sign-posted the danger he posed to Afribank? Yes, indeed! Nnamdi Anammah is known to owe Intercontinental Bank over N1 billion in loans he obtained to reposition his stock broking firm before the capital market went burst. This, ab-initio, is indeed a pre-disposing factor to fraudulent misdemeanour,” it said.
The petition was copied to the Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commssion, ICPC, the Inspector-General of Police, Chairman, Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption; Chairman, House Committee on Anti-Corruption, Director-General, State Security Service, and Head of Operations, Lagos, EFCC.
Apart from the petition, other bank documents show that in one month, December, Afribank spent N200 million to woo state governments to deposit funds in the bank. Cumulatively, the total from 2009, when the executive directors took over the bank, stands at N1.2 billion. Ironically, public sector deposits coming into the bank did not, in any way, justify the huge amount paid out. The financial condition of Afribank worsened when it lost N1 billion from January to April. In 2010, the bank made a loss of N4 billion, learnt that in 2009, when the new management took over, 70 to 80 branches were making profit compared to now when only 35 branches are profitable.
CBN, we learnt, gave Arah, a free hand to pick his executive directors and that two of those he picked are members of hisBaptistChurchin Ikoyi. They are Joke Coker and Stephen Adeji, both executive directors in charge of Corporate, Commercial and Retail Operations, and IT Human Capital procurement, respectively. Isaac Alofoje is in charge of Risk Management and Strategy while Christopher Anammah is in charge of institutional banking. Alofoje is an ex-colleague of Arah at the defunct International Merchant Bank.
“The fact that the CBN allowed the managing director to pick his executives which is a crony arrangement, is bound to produce negative repercussions for effective corporate governance. Ever since they came, a number of the projects undertaken to turn around the bank, have not been faithfully implemented, and the management does not have the capacity to take effective decision that will bring about the desired impact,” a staff of the bank who claimed anonymity said. According to the official, the management “implements decisions taken haphazardly. May be, it has to do with the fact that almost all the executive directors are mostly retirees.”
Arah is alleged to be buying expensive cars and properties from the money allegedly collected from Afribank.
The case of former managing director of BankPHB, Cyril Chukwuma is not different from that of his counterpart in Afribank. Since he took over as BankPHB MD after the sacking of Francis Atuche by the Sanusi Lamido-led CBN, the new board head is nothing to write home about as they are rolling from one scandal to another, everything boiling down to fraud and mismanagement.
Shortly after he took over last October, Cyril Chukwuma demanded and allegedly collected a whopping sum of $120,000.00 as offshore vacation allowance for the financial year that ended December 31, 2009; after spending only three months at the helm of affairs of the bank that is comatose.
However, according to BankPHB regulations, only employees who have been employed by the bank for more than six months were entitled to annual leave allowance package. Thus, Mr. Cyril Chukwuma who apparently suffers from acute money mindedness, circumvented laid down rules and fraudulently collected funds he was not entitled to.
He was also alleged to have ordered that a whopping $3.13 million be laundered out of the country. However, the monies was intercepted at the airport by vigilant security agents attached to theMurtalaMuhammedInternationalAirport.
Not done in his quest to put the bank into more trouble, he single-handedly changed the policy of the bank on status of cars for executives to monetization and he is allegedly collecting a monthly take-home of N2 million in exchange for the official cars.
Cyril Chukwuma was also alleged to have approved N60 million mortgage loan in favor of a yet to be confirmed (still on probation) deputy general manager that recently joined the bank, which is also against the policy of the financial institution. Those who are in the know revealed that the loan approved by Mr. Chukwuma for the general manager was about N21 million above the official limit for staff members in that category.
Cyril Chukwuma single handedly approved his appointment as a director of BankPHB without informing other board members, this he did to send packing two of the existing directors in the bank overseas office.
Checks reveal that Cyril Chukwuma is making all sorts of dirty deals with people that are indebted to the bank. According to sources, Chukwuma is in the habit of asking for kickback from BankPHB debtors to restructure the loans owed the bank.