No N500bn missing -CBN Insists


…vows to pursue every legal means to bring perpetrators to justice

By Kayode Tokede

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has denied reports of fraud and missing N500billion fund in the Bank as it assured the public of the integrity of the governor, Godwin Emefiele.

The CBN governor was heard by our correspondent on the online media, saying in the audio to the deputy governor Adamu: “To avoid any serious problem is just, the government to have to agree to give us at least N100 billion cash but the government will not agree. They will kick against it.”

The CBN reacting to audio recordings of conversations  among the Governor, Deputy Governor  and some Senior Officials published by an online media insisted that the recordings were selective and had no relation to fraud or missing fund in the apex bank as described in the report.

A statement issued by the bank last night and signed by Director, Corporate Communications

Mr. Isaac Okoroafor read “the Management of the CBN has been notified of a purported audio recording of selective conversations among the Governor, Deputy Governor and some Senior Officials.

“Contrary to the headline-grabbing narrative that the discussion was about a fraudulent transaction, this conversation – the beginnings of which was omitted to create a different impression  – was simply to proffer solutions to a misunderstanding that affected the Bank’s balance sheet.

“As publicly known, the CBN was approached in 2015 by the National Economic Management Team and the National Economic Council (NEC), chaired by the Vice President, to assist State Governments with Conditional Budget Support, in the aftermath of the significant nose-dive in global oil prices and associated FAAC allocations.

“In order to ensure that ordinary Nigerian workers got their salaries, pensions and gratuities, and that the economy continued to recover from recession, the Bank provided about N650 billion in loans at nine per cent with a two-year grace period to 35 States of the Federation. These monies were distributed to the States monthly with documented approval of the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Presidency.

“In closing the Bank’s 2018 accounts, external auditors in their Draft Account, erroneously classified about N150 billion of these loans as bad, which negatively affected the Bank’s Balance Sheet and shareholders fund. The selective conversation being circulated was simply a discussion to ascertain why the auditors took that position and next steps to resolving it. Obviously, it soon became clear that a State Government loan cannot be classified as “bad” or “irrecoverable” when the State still exists and getting FAAC allocations.  The Bank then reached out to the Federal Ministry of Finance and they jointly gave comfort to the auditors who accepted in writing that these monies would be repaid.

“On this basis, the auditors reversed the negative entry and certified that the CBN’s 2018 accounts were a true reflection of the State of Affairs. Reconciliation of Balance Sheet items are regular conversations among Senior Management of many agencies and should not be misconstrued as anything but that. Had the online  media which released the selective recordings sought the comments of CBN as required of journalism practice, we would have provided it.

“Clearly, those who listened to the audio can easily ascertain that the conversation had nothing to do with anything fraudulent as purported.  The Bank therefore urges all well-meaning Nigerians to disregard this audio and continue to trust that the Bank is doing everything it can to represent their interests in the best possible way.

“Under the leadership of Governor Emefiele, the CBN has always stood for, and vigorously pursued transparency in its stewardship of public resources and policies. No monies are stolen or missing.

“The integrity of the CBN Governor remains unassailable.  He has no account in Dubai or anywhere in the world and would never convert the funds of CBN to personal use. Not in the past, not now and not ever. The use of selective  wire taped conversations of the Bank’s Management, to malign his character and integrity will never stand.

“The Bank will pursue every legal means to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

President Muhammadu Buhari last Thursday forwarded the name of Emefiele to the National Assembly for reappointment amid news that a Northerner has been appointed to run the affairs of government bank.

Emefiele who is the 11th CBN Governor began his five-year tenure on June 3, 2014, which will come to an end in less than a month.

Reacting to the latest reappointment by President Buhari, Professor of Finance & Capital Market, and head, Banking and Finance Department, Nasarawa State University, Keffi,  Prof. Uche Uwaleke, said his reappointment is a good omen for the capital market and nation’s economy in general.

According to him, the CBN policies in the key real sectors of the nation’s economy are expected to continue, maintaining that the governor in the next five years is expected to focus on ensuring increased access to credit by Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and generally fostering a low interest rate environment with the support of fiscal authorities.

In his words, “Emefiele’s reappointment is good omen for the capital market. It is one development that speaks to policy consis-tency and will further consolidate macro-econo-mic stability especially with respect to exchange rate and inflation.

“Investors both domestic and foreign, can have some degree of confidence in the direction of monetary policy which is positive for the capital market. One thing is now certain: that the interventions by the CBN in critical sectors of the economy especially agriculture and non-agric based SMEs will continue.

“These will rub off positively on economic recovery efforts especially now that the CBN under Emefiele has signaled an accommodative monetary policy stance. It is equally positive for financial systems stability. So, I expect a positive reaction.

“Going forward, I would like to see an intensification and effective monitoring of the interventions in particular the Anchor Borrower programme.”