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 CBN investigates Sterling bank over alleged #219m fraud

 CBN investigates Sterling bank over alleged #219m fraud

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has ordered a full-scale investigation over an allegation of fraud against Sterling Bank and one of its branch manager in  Enugu.

Ohha Microfinance Bank (MFB) Limited, Enugu, has petitioned the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against Sterling bank and its Enugu branch manager for allegedly defrauding it of N219,034,901.50, being a fixed deposit entrusted with the bank.

The MFB petitioned the CBN governor and head of operations, EFCC, South East zone, through its lawyer, Olu Omotayo Esq, alleging the conversion of the fixed deposit to personal or bank use and refusal to refund the fixed amount at maturity.

The petition titled: “Re: Case of stealing by conversion of the sum of N219,034,901.50. Appeal for urgent thorough investigation of this massive fraud” urged the authorities to compel Sterling bank to refund its fixed deposit.

The MFB stated that it maintains a current account with the bank’s Market Road branch, Enugu, wherein it had two fixed deposit accounts of N138,900,838:89 and N80,134,062:61, totaling N219,034,901.50.

The petition reads: “On d August 7, 2017, our client wrote a letter titled ‘Termination of Fixed Deposit’ to the bank wherein our client directed the bank to terminate the fixed deposits at maturity and credit our clients’ current account with the principal and the accrued interest.

“At maturity of the two fixed deposits on the 15th August 2017, and 19th October 2017, respectively, the management of the bank served our client new fixed deposit certificates claiming that the investments have been rolled over automatically on maturity to another tenor of 90 days.

“The action of the bank prompted our client to write another letter, dated October 25, 2017, requesting again that the bank terminate the fixed deposits and credit our clients’ current account with the value.”

The petitioner said that the bank is claiming that its branch manager Mr. Oliver Anidiobi, who is also the account officer in charge of the account, might have fraudulently converted the funds to personal use, and the bank management has handed him over to the police.

According to him, “this massive fraud is not only a clear breach of their obligation under the banking law as it relates to a banker-customer relationship, but also a criminal act perpetrated by an entrenched syndicate in the bank. This type of activities spells doom for the financial and banking sector in the country.

“We urge you that it is in the interest of justice and the nation that you order for an investigation, having in mind that the fund fraudulently converted from our client’s account are depositors’ money; monies deposited by members of the public in our clients’ bank. The monies are deposits from the poor and those in the lower cadre in society who save and invest their money in the microfinance bank,” he explained.

In a written reply signed by it counsel, Messrs Sa’id Balogun, and Femi Aiyegbusi, the bank stated that, after a comprehensive investigation, “we are unable to establish the existence of a fixed deposit investment by your client.”

Meanwhile, CBN has referred the petition by the Microfinance bank to its Directorate of consumer protection for investigation and necessary action.

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