CBN Quizzes Fidelity Bank Officials over $115m Lodgement


Obinna Chima

Officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) wednesday stormed the Kofo Abayomi Street, Victoria Island head office of Fidelity Bank Plc as part of investigations into the alleged $115 million cash lodgements it received from the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.

A central bank official, who confirmed this to THISDAY wednesday, said the visit was to compare transaction documents and to find out if the cash lodgement was duly reported in line with the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act as claimed by the bank.

“I can confirm to you that our officials were at Fidelity Bank’s head office today (Tuesday) to examine all the documents that have to do with the transaction,” the source said.

Last week, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arrested the bank’s Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer (MD/CEO), Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo, for allegedly receiving $115 million from the former minister and disbursed the funds to politicians in the build-up to the 2015 presidential election that was lost by former President Goodluck Jonathan.

EFCC has arrested several officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Cross River, Osun, Oyo and Delta States who it alleged were bribed with the money deposited with Fidelity Bank to alter the outcome of the 2015 general election.

But the bank, in a statement last Thursday, explained that the transaction was reported to the regulator and that it was cooperating with the EFCC in its investigations.

Following the 30-day extension granted by a court on the warrant of Okonkwo’s arrest, Fidelity Bank on Monday announced the appointment of its Executive Director North, Alhaji Mohammed Lawal Balarabe, as its acting CEO. The appointment was announced after a board meeting on Monday.

A two-paragraph statement at the end of the meeting said Balarabe’s appointment, which took effect last night, was subject to regulatory approval even as the bank assured its stakeholders of continued seamless services.

“In the absence of the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo, the Board of Directors has appointed Alhaji Mohammed Lawal Balarabe, Executive Director North as acting Managing Director/Chief Executive of Fidelity Bank Plc with immediate effect subject to regulatory approval,” it said.

The bank assured its stakeholders, including over 400,000 shareholders and 3.4 million customers, of its continued seamless services.