CBN investigator probes banks over N1.27tn intervention funds
The Chief Executive Officers and top management staff of banks may also be probed during the ongoing investigation of the activities of the Central Bank of Nigeria, according to findings.
It was learnt that some bank CEOs would be invited in an effort to ascertain any discrepancies around the management of intervention funds by deposit money banks.
It was earlier reported that the Central Bank of Nigeria may be asked to withdraw its audited annual financial reports, which were recently released.
This came after a team investigating the apex bank discovered discrepancies and irregularities in the financial accounts.
In August, the CBN released its financial accounts for the years 2016 to 2022 amid an ongoing probe of the financial services sector regulator by a Special Investigator appointed by President Bola Tinubu.
Tinubu had on July 28 appointed a former Chief Executive Officer of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria, Jim Obazee, as Special Investigator to probe the activities of the apex bank under its suspended governor, Godwin Emefiele.
Aside from the CBN, the special investigator is also investigating the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited, FRC, and other Government Business Entities.
The President, in the letter which he personally signed, said the move was in continuation of the government’s anti-corruption fight.
The letter, dated July 28, 2023, read, “In accordance with the fundamental objectives set forth in Section 15(5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), this administration is, today, continuing the fight against corruption by appointing you as a Special Investigator, to investigate the CBN and Related Entities. This appointment shall be with immediate effect and you are to report directly to my office.
“The full terms of your engagement as Special Investigator shall be communicated to you in due course but require that you immediately take steps to ensure the strengthening and probity of key Government Business Entities, further block leakages in CBN and related GBEs and provide a comprehensive report on public wealth currently in the hands of corrupt individuals and establishments (whether private or public).
“You are to investigate the CBN and related entities using a suitably experienced, competent and capable team and work with relevant security and anti-corruption agencies to deliver on this assignment. I shall expect a weekly briefing on the progress being made.”
The President also attached a copy of his directive suspending Godwin Emefiele as Governor of the CBN on June 9, 2023.
According to findings, the CBN Special Investigator is working with a team of accountants, auditors, and forensic accountants to carry out the investigation.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, George Akume, recently said the Federal Government will soon unveil the audit report of the probe of the CBN.
The SGF said that the probe report of the CBN when made public, would reveal how poor governance brought the country to the present predicament.
According to him, the report will enable Nigerians to know what really went wrong and how the country got to its present situation.
He said, “Most of these problems confronting us are due to bad governance. The present government has confronted and is confronting these challenges. When President Bola Tinubu came on board, he took a very sound decision at the CBN. That singular act led to a massive improvement in the capital market, as experts have told us, it is something that has never happened in the past 15 years.
“We have a new team at the CBN and a special investigator has been in the CBN for some time now and his result will soon be released and Nigerians will know what really went wrong and what brought us to where we are today.”
It was also revealed that Obazee had submitted an interim report to the President’s office.
Multiple officials said the preliminary report was submitted for necessary action by the President.
“The CBN Special Investigator submitted a preliminary report to the President’s Office over a week ago. The investigation still continues but the preliminary report is meant to give the President an idea of what has been discovered so far,” a top official privy to the development told The PUNCH on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the matter.
It was learnt that the interim report would enable the president to make some key decisions that would help the country move forward.
Officials said the interim report led to the change of leadership at the CBN.
The president and his team are said to be currently reviewing the report with a view to taking an appropriate decision on it soon.
N1.27tn intervention funds
According to a top official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, some top bank officials will be invited as the investigations proceed over undisbursed intervention funds.
Findings showed that N1.27tn intervention funds sit in the accounts of five banks.
This was based on an analysis of the half-year financial statements of Access Bank, Fidelity Bank, Guarantee Trust Bank, United Bank for Africa, and Zenith Bank.