Sterling Bank Wednesday refuted claims made by the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) over the newly redesigned naira notes found at its Central Business District Complex in Abuja.
The bank said the assertion of a ‘discovery’, as presented in the ICPC claims, is inaccurate and misleading.
The ICPC last Friday said it discovered N258 million stashed in the bank’s vault following an inspection of the bank in its efforts to ensure that commercial banks do not flout the apex bank’s directive.
The commission said its monitoring team was informed that the cash was part of the money the CBN gave the bank for onward distribution to its branches.
But the agency claimed that its team found out that only five million naira each was distributed to their various branches. The team said it arrested both the regional and service managers but later granted them administrative bail while an investigation continues.
However, in a statement signed by Raheem Owodeyi, its chief operating officer, the bank debunked the allegations.
“It must be noted that no cash was “stashed” in the vault of the regional office, and for emphasis, Sterling Bank has complied with all the guidelines,” the statement said.
The bank said its officials informed the ICPC team of the N258 million in the vault, adding that the branch serves as a hub for the distribution of cash to other branches in the region. It added that the branches serviced by the CBD branch include Utako, Wuye, Seda Close, Kotangora, and National Assembly offices.
It said during the inspection, the monitoring team observed that the bank’s Automated Teller Machines were dispensing all denominations of the newly designed banknotes and also allowed customers to withdraw cash over the counter as directed by the apex bank.
“Upon their visits to the Utako and Wuye branches, the monitoring team reviewed the records submitted for the movement of cash from the CBD branch to other branches served within the region,” the statement said.
“It is important to state that cash was being paid OTC at the branches, and the ATM terminals were dispensing the newly designed denominations during the monitoring exercise.”
The bank also noted that all responses provided during the inspection by the monitoring team were satisfactory as no further queries were raised, and the team promptly left the premises upon the conclusion of the inspection.
“Approximately, one hour later, officials of the ICPC accompanied by the monitoring team, returned and invited two of the branch’s staff for further questioning at the ICPC headquarters in Abuja; the two bank representatives returned to their offices on the same day with no charges levelled against them.
“Members of the regulatory monitoring team were informed of the sums contained in the branch’s vault prior to the inspection. These sums were confirmed with a review of the records as presented by representatives of the bank.
“The assertion of a ‘discovery’, as presented in the narrative, is inaccurate and misleading. It must be noted that no cash was ‘stashed’ in the vault of the regional office, and for emphasis, Sterling Bank has complied with all the guidelines on the distribution of redesigned notes from inception to date.”
In the midst of the ongoing difficulties associated with the distribution of the newly designed currency policy, the bank said it has been praised for a number of initiatives, as evidenced by videos from the previous week when the bank’s branches distributed bottles of water to customers patiently waiting to withdraw cash.
“The following week, other banks decided to follow suit after observing the move.” the statement said.
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