More revelations of gross financial impropriety and abuse of office allegedly perpetuated by the suspended Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mounir Gwarzo, came to the fore on Thursday, justifying why the Administrative Panel of Inquiry (API) set up by the Federal Government recommended his dismissal from public service.
Top on the list of Gwarzo’s misconducts was the payment of N1.7 billion unapproved extra-budgetary spending as retirement benefits to 44 SEC workers in 2015, captured as “The Golden Handshake”.
Golden Handshake simply means paying off staff who voluntarily retire from service before their due date.
The money was neither appropriated by the National Assembly nor captured under any supplementary budget; a development that negates civil service rules.
More so, documents received by the Administrative Panel of Inquiry (API) and sighted by this newspaper reinforced the claim by a whistle-blower that the suspended SEC boss is a director and shareholder in two private companies even while in office. The companies are Medusa Investments Limited and Outbound Investment Limited.
Our checks reveal that Gwarzo had tendered a letter of resignation as Director of Medusa Investments Limited dated December 19, 2012, to the API while appearing before members of the committee in January 2018.
However, the actions taken by the former SEC boss in 2015 and 2016 however negated his letter of resignation as a director in Medusa Investments Limited (MIL).
Gwarzo, according to bank documents, had written a Wuse branch of a bank on July 24, 2015, requesting for change of account officer. His letter to the bank was signed in his name as a director of Medusa Investments Limited using the letter-headed paper of the company.
Furthermore, the suspended SEC Director-General on August 16, 2016, requested that Naira Mastercards be issued on Medusa Investments Limited’s account for himself and one Khadijat Gwarzo. The request conveyed by a board resolution of Medusa Investments Limited were signed by Mounir Gwarzo and Khadijat Mustapha.
It was on the strength of the overwhelming evidence against Gwarzo that the API recommended his dismissal from public service and asked that he should be handed over to the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) for prosecution.
Access Bank staffer arraigned for stealing customers’ N13 million
A staffer of the Herbert Wigwe’s led Access Bank Plc, Kolawole Agboola, has been arraigned at the Tinubu Chief Magistrates’ Court in Lagos Island on a three-count charge of conspiracy, fraud and theft.
THE WITNESS gathered the accused allegedly stole N13.6 million from the accounts of two customers of the Bank.
He however pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The Idimu, Lagos-based 29-year old banker, according to the prosecutor, Sergeant Hafsat Ajibode, committed the offences between October 2017 and March 2018.
The offences contravened Sections 287 (7), 325 and 411 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015 with Section 287 (7) stipulating seven years imprisonment for offenders.
Ajibode said that the accused withdrew the money from the unnamed Access Bank customers’ accounts by issuing a forged investment certificate to them to conceal his fraudulent activities.
The Chief Magistrate, Mr Tajudeen Elias, granted bail to the accused in the sum of N500,000 with two sureties in like sum. He said one of the sureties must be a relative of the accused and the other, a civil servant, while he adjourned the case until August 16, 2018 for hearing.
Access Bank prosecutes defunct Intercontinental Bank staff for stealing N1.2bn from customers
Following the startling discovery of a whopping N1.2bn fraud, allegedly committed by one Olayinka Sanni, a former staff of Access Bank, through illegal siphoning of customers’ money, the bank has now taken the bold step to prosecute the said former staff, through the anti-graft agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC,) after intensive investigations confirmed Sanni’s culpability in the alleged fraud.
An employee of Access Bank, one Arthur Ezindu, narrated how Olayinka Sanni, then an Account General Manager, AGM, of several plum accounts, severally stole a sizeable amount of money to the tune of N1.2billion from several accounts belonging to customers of the bank.
Some of these customers’ accounts include: the Falana & Falana Chambers; Babington Junior Seminary; Viju Industries; Mechano Nigeria, PWU Nigeria; Elizade Nigeria; Murhi International Group, to mention a few. Sanni was reportedly arraigned alongside one Oyebode Oteyebi by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on an eight-count charge bordering on stealing, forgery and altering of forged documents. Ezindu, who gave his office address as Block 99C Damole, off Adeola Odeku, testified as a prosecution witness before an Ikeja High Court, Lagos.
While being led in evidence by the EFCC Lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, Ezindu said that Sanni withdrew the said huge sum of money from different customers’ accounts without their consent and thereafter issued them forged documents of confirmation which he purportedly claimed, emanated from the bank.
In the course of interrogation, Arthur Ezindu told the Special Offences Court that, Olayinka, who was his boss at the time of the incident, was a regional Executive, Lagos Mainland North at Intercontinental bank, now Access Bank. According to him, “The bank received several complaints from several customers whose accounts were debited without their consent.
However, during the preliminary investigation, we noticed that all the complaints were centered on our staff, Olayinka Sanni. We then invited him to the head office for questioning, but he claimed that everything was under control. He told us not to bother investigating the matter on the ground, that there was more behind what was happening.
So since he was our senior officer, being the AGM at that time, we decided to petition his case to the EFCC for proper investigation. When asked how much was involved as at the time the bank petitioned for EFCC, Ezindu replied, the total sum was about N1.2billion.
The prosecution thereafter tendered the petition dated September 2011 in evidence. Meanwhile, the two defendants were also arraigned alongside a company, Sidaw Ventures Limited, which was allegedly used to transfer and cash out the stolen funds.
The employee further said that during the preliminary investigation, the bank discovered that the company, Sidaw had Adamu as its signatory, while Sanni indirectly managed the account. Some of the handwriting on the cheques belonged to Sanni. He was the one indirectly signing and filling the cheques for Adamu. But in the wake of this unfolding scenario that is creeping into the good image of Access Bank, it was found out that the sleaze by Sanni was actually committed when he was still a staff of now defunct Intercontinental Bank, before it was acquire by Access Bank, thus with its assets and liabilities, as normally done in cases of acquisition.
Upon acquisition, Access Bank began a fresh look into the books and records of Intercontinental Bank; that was when the Olayimka Sanni’s lead was broken, as many atrocities and malfeasances were discovered, all pointing in the direction of Sanni, who by this time had resigned from Access Bank, apparently due to the fact, that it would not take long before his misdeed will be found, and he would go in for it. Subsequently, he was invited by the bank and handed over to EFCC for further investigation, which now led to his present prosecution at the Ikeja High Court (Special Offences Unit.)
The case was adjourned to a later date for further hearing, while the accused was refused bail, and still in the detention of EFCC.
The deduction from the case is that the implication being created is that the fraud was committed by Sanni as a staff of Access Bank, but the truth of the matter is that the fraud was committed by Sanni while he was a top official of defunct Intercontinental Bank, until it was eventually acquired by Access Bank with all its assets and liabilities, which now, in a fresh bid to regularize the acquisition, found out the sleaze committed by Sanni.
Ex-staffers battle Diamond Bank over unpaid severance fee
We are not owing them – Diamond Bank
Diamond Bank Plc. led by Uzoma Dozie is now at war with the 370 workers that were sacked by the bank with no severance entitlements.
This newspaper learnt that the management of Diamond Bank on 27th of May 2016 at about 5:30am sent an electronic mail to 370 of their member staff to notify them of termination of their appointment, without stating any objective reason. Most of the workers who didn’t receive the termination mail before leaving home to work were caught off guard as they couldn’t access their various work stations and were only able to find out about the termination of their appointment after renting their friend’s phone.
We gathered that the workers took their case to the National Assembly Committee on Public Petitions and the bank’s MD/CEO, Uzoma Dozie was summoned to appear before the committee on January 18th, 2018. Instead of showing up, he sent the Head Human Capital Management of the bank, Mr. Gabriel Nwokeafor to represent him.
Sources said that Mr. Gabriel Nwokeafor told the House Committee that the bank was ready to settle the matter and a meeting was held to that effect at Reiz Hotel, Abuja on January 19th, 2018 between Diamond Bank, its lawyer and seven representatives of the sacked workers alongside their lawyer and the bank agreed to pay the severance/redundancy benefits as computed but on the condition that the loans collected by the ex-workers will be deducted and the balance paid to them.
Be that as it may, we were told that the bank had reneged on that agreement. Besides, Mr. Gabriel on 28th March, 2018 refused to appear before the House Committee instead he sent two lawyers who refuted the agreements he made with the ex-workers and their lawyer on January 19th, 2018 on the ground that the case was still in Court and the sacked workers were asked to withdraw their case from the court.
The ex-workers not fully aware of the implication of their next action, subsequently withdrew the case from Court.
Sources added that Mr. Gabriel on April 24th, 2018 said that he cannot deny knowledge of the agreement he signed with the ex-workers and their lawyer, and the withdrawal of the case in court that there is no way the decision he reached with the sacked workers could be wholly binding as the CEO/MD of the bank was not present at the time. He added that he did not know that the entire decisions at the meeting was been recorded.
But in a statement made available to THE WITNESS on Thursday July 19, 2018, Diamond Bank however denied the allegations.
The statement reads in part “At Diamond Bank, we understand the value of strong governance principles that protect and places a premium on the welfare of our people.”
“The exit of the staff was in line with best practice and complied to all regulations.”
“Out of the 370 persons who left the employment of our bank, 274 of them voluntarily resigned their appointments and several of them have requested and have been issued with favourable references.”
“They were paid all their terminal benefits as stipulated under their contracts of employment.”
“Presently, we are not indebted to any of them. However, a number of them are indebted to the Bank over loan facilities they obtained and failed to repay.”
“We wish to state that this issue has been reported and deliberated upon by the Central Bank of Nigeria as well as Federal Legislative bodies.” The lender stressed.
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