The resurgent menace of the toxic loans in the banking sector could be checked if the Nigerian government revisits the return of the Failed Bank Act, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), Ahmed Kuru, has said.
Mr Kuru who spoke on Wednesday in Lagos when he received officials of the Risk Management Association of Nigeria (RIMAN) said the return of the Act would compel operatives in the banking sector to account for their actions.
RIMAN was led by its president, Magnus Nnoka, who is also the Chief Risk Officer, Coronation Merchant Bank.
The management of banks, he said, will strengthen their risk management framework to stem the negative growth in the economy.
“The reintroduction of the Failed Bank Act into the country’s financial system will not only curtail the current trend of financial rascality on the part of some bankers, it will bring discipline to the banking industry in general,” he said.
Given the huge resources available in the financial institutions and the pivotal role they play in the development of the economy, Mr Kuru said it makes it mandatory for financial institutions to take risk management seriously, to prevent a repeat of the global financial crisis.
One of the reasons given for the failure of the banking system during the global financial crisis of 2008/2009, which eventually led to the creation of AMCON, Mr Kuru recalled, was the prevalence of weak risk management framework by financial institutions.
The official said the trend became baggage, which contained all sorts of bad omen for the economy, including poor corporate governance structure, lack of robust risk management strategy and lack of adherence to laid down principles that govern credit approvals by financial institutions.
“I have been on both sides, first as a banker and now as a regulator. I can authoritatively comment on issues relating to risk management.
“Immediately after the intervention of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in 2009, they insisted that risk management must be given prominence right from the Board level to the account officer.
“What we have noticed now is the lack of consequent framework to manage the risk structure. We have noticed prevalence of key men risk.
“Credits are booked with impunity without any intention of paying back. The grievous impunity is taking place along the credit process. There is the urgent need to revisit the failed bank act so that operatives become responsible for their actions. We believe it will bring discipline to the banking industry,” Mr Kuru said.
He said the damage financial institutions do to the economy when they approve fictitious loans was worse than corruption.
Currently, the AMCON MD said, the debt recovery agency sits on a huge stock of non-performing loans, with banks looking for liquidity to book more loans.