The Chief Executive Officers and top management staff of Guaranty Trust Bank, Access Bank Plc, Zenith Bank Plc, First City Monument Bank, Fidelity Bank Plc, Zenith Bank Plc, Sterling Bank Plc, Stanbic IBTC may also be probed during the ongoing investigation of the activities of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
According to a report by The Punch, the bank’s CEOs would be invited in an effort to ascertain any discrepancies around the management of intervention funds by deposit money banks.
In August, the CBN released its financial accounts for the years 2016 to 2022 amid an ongoing probe of the financial services sector regulator by a Special Investigator appointed by President Bola Tinubu.
Tinubu had on July 28 appointed a former Chief Executive Officer of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria, Jim Obazee, as Special Investigator to probe the activities of the apex bank under its suspended governor, Godwin Emefiele.
Aside from the CBN, the special investigator is also investigating the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited, FRC, and other Government Business Entities.
The President, in the letter which he personally signed, said the move was in continuation of the government’s anti-corruption fight.
The letter, dated July 28, 2023, read, “In accordance with the fundamental objectives set forth in Section 15(5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), this administration is, today, continuing the fight against corruption by appointing you as a Special Investigator, to investigate the CBN and Related Entities. This appointment shall be with immediate effect and you are to report directly to my office.
“The full terms of your engagement as Special Investigator shall be communicated to you in due course but require that you immediately take steps to ensure the strengthening and probity of key Government Business Entities, further block leakages in CBN and related GBEs and provide a comprehensive report on public wealth currently in the hands of corrupt individuals and establishments (whether private or public).
“You are to investigate the CBN and related entities using a suitably experienced, competent and capable team and work with relevant security and anti-corruption agencies to deliver on this assignment. I shall expect a weekly briefing on the progress being made.”
The President also attached a copy of his directive suspending Godwin Emefiele as Governor of the CBN on June 9, 2023.
According to findings, the CBN Special Investigator is working with a team of accountants, auditors, and forensic accountants to carry out the investigation.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, George Akume, recently said the Federal Government will soon unveil the audit report of the probe of the CBN.
The SGF said that the probe report of the CBN when made public, would reveal how poor governance brought the country to the present predicament.
According to him, the report will enable Nigerians to know what really went wrong and how the country got to its present situation.
He said, “Most of these problems confronting us are due to bad governance. The present government has confronted and is confronting these challenges. When President Bola Tinubu came on board, he took a very sound decision at the CBN. That singular act led to a massive improvement in the capital market, as experts have told us, it is something that has never happened in the past 15 years.
According to a top official, who spoke with The PUNCH on the condition of anonymity, some top bank officials will be invited as the investigations proceed over undisbursed intervention funds.
Findings by The PUNCH showed that N1.27tn intervention funds sit in the accounts of five banks.
This was based on an analysis of the half-year financial statements of Access Bank, Fidelity Bank, Guarantee Trust Bank, United Bank for Africa, and Zenith Bank.
The intervention funds cover lending facilities provided by the CBN through local banks, and the facilities include Accelerated Agriculture Development Scheme, Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme, Healthcare Sector Intervention Facility, and Paddy Aggregation Scheme.
They also include Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises Development Fund, Real Sector Support Facility, 100 for 100 Policy on Production and Productivity, Export Facilitation Initiative, and the Creative Industry Financing Initiative.
Findings by The PUNCH showed that there was at least N530.07bn worth of intervention funds in Access Bank.
This included about N3.56bn under the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme, N1.57bn to facilitate the rapid rollout of agent networks across Nigeria supporting the expansion of a shared Agent Network, N58.84bn under the salary bailout fund, N99.04bn outstanding balance on the excess crude account loans, N9.34bn for the Real Sector Support Facility, N1.14bn for the Accelerated Agricultural Development Scheme.
It also included N955.61m for the Creative Industry Financing Initiative, N8.62bn for the Non-Oil Export Stimulation Facility, and N17.64bn for the Health Sector Intervention Facility, among others.
It was also learnt that at least N310.52bn of the intervention funds sit in Fidelity Bank.
It included N80.65bn state bailout fund, N190.06bn Real Sector Support Facility – Differentiated Cash Reserves Requirement, N7.28bn Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme, N2.5bn Paddy Aggregation Scheme, and N6.36bn 100 for 100 PPP.
About N288.42bn of the intervention funds are in Zenith Bank.
It included N23.54bn Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme Loan, N1.86bn Power & Aviation Intervention Fund, N125.14bn salary bailout fund, N71.53bn Excess Crude Loan Facility, N28.73bn Real Sector Support Facility and N9.13bn Non-Oil Export Stimulation Facility.
According to the report, the agricultural sector has been the major beneficiary of the intervention funds, especially through the Anchor Borrower Fund and the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme.
About nine banks have at least N208.33bn undisbursed funds from the CBN for the Anchor Borrower Fund and the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme at little interest rates.
According to the first half financial statements released to the Nigerian Exchange Limited, three of the banks; Guaranty Trust Holding Company, Wema Bank and Sterling Financial Holdings had N114.10bn of the Anchor Borrowers Fund still in their coffers.
While seven banks including GTCO, Wema Bank, Sterling Financial Holdings, United Bank for Africa, Access Holdings, Zenith Bank Plc, Fidelity Bank, Stanbic IBTC Holdings and FCMB Group combined had N94.23bn of the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme funds in their books not disbursed as of the end of June.
According to the financial reports of GTCO, the lender still had N75.35bn of the Anchor Borrowers Fund as of June 2023 (December 2022: N78.42bn), which shows that only N3.06bn had been disbursed in six months. The bank revealed that the tenor of the facility depends on the gestation period of the targeted commodity but will not exceed two years. The facility is disbursed at an all-inclusive interest rate of nine per cent.
For the CACS intervention fund, GTCO still had N3.29bn (December 2022: N5.05bn. The facility is for a period of seven years at two per cent annual cost to the company. The maximum interest rate to the borrowers under the scheme is nine per cent annually inclusive of all charges.
Sterling Financial Holdings had N37.90bn of the ABP funds in its coffers which reflected a N12bn increase in six months showing that it disbursed less of the loans to the targeted users. For the CACS, Sterling Holdco had N33.40bn, indicating another increase over N31.59bn recorded as of December 2023.
Zenith Bank still had N 23.53bn of the CACS intervention fund in its coffers. Compared to N32.89bn it had as of December, the bank has disbursed N9.35bn between January and June 2023.
In its report, Stanbic IBTC said that it obtained an interest-free loan from the CBN for the purpose of on-lending to customers under the CACS. The tenor is also based on an agreement with individual beneficiary customers. It had N 6.78bn as of June 2023(December 2022: N8.99bn) showing N2.21bn was disbursed in the first half of the year.
Access Bank said, “The amount of N3.55bn represents the outstanding balance on the on-lending facility granted to the Bank by Central Bank of Nigeria in collaboration with the Federal Government of Nigeria in respect of Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme established by both CBN and the FGN for promoting commercial agricultural enterprises in Nigeria.
“The facility is for a maximum year of seven years at a zero per cent interest rate to the Bank. The Bank did not provide security for this facility. From this creditor, the bank has nil undrawn balance as at 30 June 2023.”
Fidelity Bank reported N7.27bn in yet-to-be disbursed CACS funds as of June 2023, a decrease compared to N8.08bn in 2022 and FCMB had in its till N1.82bn of the same intervention fund as of June 2023, down from N3.58bn as of December 2022, reflecting that N1.76bn had been disbursed.
Credit: The Punch