Sterling Bank Refutes Its CEO Was Arrested And Everything Else

Finally there is an official statement from Sterling Bank PLC and it negates virtually all the reports in the media.

According to a statement released by the bank, the bank denied reports that its CEO was arrested and detained by the EFCC, saying “the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) visited Sterling Bank Plc on Wednesday 4th May, 2016 requesting to see a mid-level officer of the Bank

The company however, claimed that “unfortunately the officer was not immediately available and that led to the agency questioning some senior management staff including the CEO of the Bank”.

As to the motive of the EFCC, the bank said “at the time, the nature of the EFCC investigation was unclear. Nonetheless, the Bank issued a formal notice to the Nigeria Stock Exchange and briefed the relevant regulators on this development. It has now become clear that the investigation is related to the banking relationship of a non-bank financial institution that is a client of Sterling Bank Plc”

The bank went ahead to remove itself from the incident claiming “It has now become clear that the investigation is related to the banking relationship of a non-bank financial institution that is a client of Sterling Bank Plc.

As reported in the media, the bank was said to be having a secret account where about USD 88 million was laundered. Sterling denied such insinuation saying “we affirm for the public records that the Bank does not hold the account of the public officer from the previous administration to which this matter has been linked either officially or otherwise”

Without naming the company involved perhaps for legal reasons, the bank said “the non-bank financial institution (Asset Management Company) in question purchased a number of loans on a recourse basis from Sterling Bank Plc on commercially acceptable terms and this is the link of the concern raised by the EFCC to Sterling Bank Plc

To assure its customers, Sterling Bank said it “has commissioned a review of the compliance procedures of its non–bank financial institution clients with the aim of strengthening this area of our operations. In the Interim, the Bank will not accept any new non-bank financial institution relationships.

However, it is unclear why it took the bank more than 96 hours (3 days) before it gave the statement. The bank did not make reference to reports that the bank’s CEO returned NGN 5 billion before he was set free.

Yesterday, the CBN said it has started carrying out an in-depth investigations into illegal transactions in the banking industry. Because it is the regulator that is supposed to detect and punish such behaviours, the CBN itself might take some beating the process. The CBN will as well fine any of the banks found guilty at the end of the day.

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