Asset declaration: Bank officials panic 


…As EFCC sets June 1 deadline

Investigations have revealed that  officials with hidden assets in the banking sector are panicking following the announcement  by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for all operators in the Nigerian financial system especially bankers to declare their assets latest June 1, 2021. The Commission’s Executive Chairman, Abdulrashed Bawa, dropped this hint yesterday while speaking with journalists at the State House, Abuja after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.

Fraud-related transactions cost Nigerian banks N3.5billion in losses between July and September 2020. This represented a 534 percent increase in the same period in 2019 when it was N552million.

The deluge of cyber fraud, which breaches the information technology systems, has become a major source of worry to all, especially banks who lose substantial amount of money to this criminal activity.

Internal fraud is considered the biggest problem facing banking institutions with recent research by Temenos, putting their influence at 70 percent. The fraud is usually perpetrated by those with the highest levels of access to information technology (IT) systems, such as systems and database administrators.

The financial sector’s on-going digital transformation and COVID-19-induced cloud reliance have caused the sector’s attack surface to grow exponentially, exposing organisations to increased levels of cyber threat activity.

Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) in its latest Industry Fraud Report found that the highest number of fraudulent transactions (35.5 percent of the total) were committed on the web channel, that is, transactions that are done using a web browser. Transactions done over phones were responsible for a loss of N410 million at 11.7 percent of the entire loss value.

Officials who spoke with Nigerian NewsDirect disclosed that  the directive of the EFCC will trigger rise in resignation particularly by errant bank managers with assets acquired illegally. Instead of facing the EFCC to defend multi-billion Naira assets accrued, the managers hinted that voluntary resignation before the expiration of the deadline is the best option.

“EFCC officials will use the directive to extort bank officials regardless of the sources of the assets,” they argued.

The EFCC boss said the move which is pursuant to the Bank Employees, ETC. (Declaration of Assets) Act 1986, is part of measures to sanitize the nation’s financial system and block some of the loopholes currently being exploited by unscrupulous players in the sector to undermine Nigerian economy through money laundering and illicit financial flows.

Section 1 of the Bank Employees, ETC. (Declaration of Assets) Act 1986 makes it mandatory for every employee of a Bank to make full disclosure of assets upon employment, and annually in subsequent years.

The law under Section 7 (1) stipulates that, “It shall be an offence for an employee of a bank to own assets in excess of his legitimate known and provable income.”

The penalty for violation of the Act, as spelt out in section 7(2) includes imprisonment for a term of ten years; “Any employee guilty of an offence under subsection (1) of this Section shall on conviction be liable to imprisonment for ten years and shall, in addition, forfeit the excess assets or its equivalent in money to the Federal Government.”

Bawa who also expressed worry about youth involvement in cybercrime, however appealed to parents to take special interest in the activities of their children. According to him, parents have a responsibility to ensure that they nurture their children with the right set of values to ensure that they are not easily swayed by the allure of easy money through fraud and cybercrimes. He added that youths must learn that there is no shortcut to enduring wealth.