Fidelity Bank Plc yesterday appointed an Acting Managing Director, Alhaji Mohammed Lawal Balarabe in place of its troubled Chief Executive Officer, Nnamdi Okonkwo.
The bank’s Board of Directors which approved the appointment, said the development followed the absence of the substantive Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer.
While announcing Balarabe, who prior to the appointment was the Executive Director North, the bank reassured all it’s stakeholders, including over 400,000 shareholders and about 3.4 million customers, of it’s continued seamless services.
It said although Balarabe’s appointment is with immediate effect, it was subject to regulatory approval.
Fidelity Bank had been in the eye of the storm, following the arrest and detention of Okonkwo by the Economic and Financial Crimes’ Commission over a lodgement of $115 million involving the former Petroleum Resources Minister Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.
The money which was allegedly received by Okonkwo into the bank’s coffers, were said to have be used to bribe Independent National Electoral Commission staff in the run-up to the 2015 Presidential elections.
Although Fidelity Bank issued a statement, saying it complied with the extant regulations on suspicious transactions reporting, the EFCC, notwithstanding, had since gone ahead to secure a court injunction to keep Okonkwo in its custody, while the investigation is ongoing.
By legal provisions, Financial institutions are required by the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Regulations, 2013 (as amended) to forward their AML/CFT Compliance Manual to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for off-site review of the document as well as carry out enhanced customer due diligence for high risk customers and effective Know Your Customer (KYC) processes.
A statement signed by the bank’s management said the transactions were duly reported as required by the regulators and that it is “cooperating fully with the authorities on the investigation”.
It said in a statement: “Our attention has been drawn to reports in the media on investigations into transactions undertaken by the Bank in the normal course of business in 2015. The transactions are now the subject matter of investigations by the Economic & Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC),” it said.
“We assure our numerous stakeholders, including our customers, that we are working assiduously towards a quick resolution of the issues.”
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has detained the bank’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Nnamdi Okonkwo, and Head of Operations Martins Izuogbe for allegedly receiving $115 million from Mrs. Alison-Madueke. Investigators believe the cash was meant for the bribery of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to change the results of last year’s presidential election.