Chairmen, CEOs of Union, Skye, Diamond, Others Risk Sanctions, Removal

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• Unity, Heritage, Keystone, Providus, Suntrust also fail to publish results April 30

Obinna Chima

The recent Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) announcement that the chairmen and chief executives of any licensed bank who fail to publish their financial statements will face sanction or be removed has put eight banks at risk.

Findings by THISDAY Tuesday showed that the chairmen and CEOs of Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, Skye Bank Plc, Diamond Bank Plc, Unity Bank Plc, Heritage Bank, Keystone Bank, Suntrust Bank and Providus Bank risk immediate sanctions or even removal if their accounts remain unpublished for up to 12 months.

The eight banks have failed to meet the April 30 deadline provided by the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA) requiring banks to publish their audited financial accounts not later than four months after the end of each financial year, with Skye Bank, in breach of the Act by 28 months.

The last time Skye Bank, a quoted company on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), made public its audited accounts was in 2016 for the year ending 2015.

But it is uncertain if the CBN will wield the big stick on Skye Bank’s chairman, Muhammad K. Ahmad, and managing director, Tokunbo Abiru, given the insolvency issues that forced the central bank to sack the previous board of directors of Skye Bank in 2016, replacing it with the current turnaround board.

Last July, Skye Bank announced that the CBN had extended its guarantee to the bank for another year.

A top official of Skye Bank told THISDAY Tuesday that the central bank was still considering the bank’s recapitalisation proposal.

“Ours is a special case. The delay is not deliberate. The CBN is aware of our situation and has been very supportive and the market knows. That is why we are not being punished,” she explained.

Investigations by THISDAY also showed that Union Bank, Diamond Bank, Unity Bank, Heritage Bank, Keystone Bank, Providus Bank and SunTrust Bank were yet to publish their full-year 2017 audited financial statements.

For Union, Diamond and Unity Banks, not only have they failed to comply with BOFIA requiring banks to publish their audited accounts within the first four months of the year, they also missed the same deadline stipulated by the NSE for quoted companies with December ending financial years.

Diamond and Unity Banks, nonetheless, had notified the NSE that their results would be delayed.

Diamond Bank had, in its notification to the NSE, assured the public that its 2017 full year audited financial statements would be “made available on or before April 30, 2018”.

As of Monday, April 30, Diamond Bank had not met the deadline.

When contacted, an official of the bank said its results had been submitted to the central bank and its approval was being awaited.

Unity Bank also notified the NSE that its results would be delayed, but did not specify a date when the bank’s results would be made public.

Union Bank, according to market watchers, was expected to announce its results on the NSE and publish its accounts on Monday, however, the bank missed the deadline.

Officials of Heritage, SunTrust and Providus, on the other hand, informed THISDAY that their audited results were ready but awaiting the approval of the CBN. According to sources conversant with the issues, CBN examiners usually delay accounts of banks if there are questions and clarifications to be made.

There was no response from Keystone Bank when it was contacted on the issue.

The central bank had in its Monetary, Credit, Foreign Trade and Exchange Policy Guidelines for Fiscal Years 2018/2019 released at the weekend, said banks were required, subject to the written approval of the CBN, to publish, not later than four months after the end of each financial year, their audited financial statements (statement of financial position and statement of comprehensive income) in a national daily newspaper printed and circulated in Nigeria.

The CBN, in the guidelines, said it would hold the board chairman and CEO of any defaulting bank directly responsible for any breach.

It added that appropriate sanctions would also be imposed on the defaulting banks which could include barring the chief executive or his/her nominee from participation at the Bankers’ Committee and disclosing the reason for such suspension; suspension of the foreign exchange dealership licence of the bank; and its name sent to the NSE (in the case of a public quoted company).