Any bank indicted in the ongoing probe of the police pension fund administration by the National Assembly risks stiff sanctions by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the apex bank governor, Lamido Sanusi, has warned.
The governor, who issued the threat at the media briefings at the end of the 82nd Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) in Abuja, said the decision to sanction any bank found to have engaged in any shady transaction on the funds was in furtherance of its commitment to sustain corporate governance and ensure that no bank undermines the country’s financial system’s current global ratings.
According to Mr. Sanusi, the CBN is monitoring the ongoing probe with keen interest. He said that it would not hesitate to bring to book any bank that may be found to have compromised the integrity of the banking system through fraudulent deals involving the funds.
He said although the findings of the two Committees of the National Assembly are yet to be made public, the CBN has held discussions on the matter with the Minister of Finance and the Coordinating Minister on the Economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, as well as requested for her report on the issue with a view to knowing if any bank is involved and mete out appropriate punishment against such a bank.
“As far as the Police Pension Fraud is concerned, we are waiting for the reports, and we will certainly send in examiners to look at the books, and any bank that we find involved in these things will be dealt with,” the CBN governor said.
“So far, what we have heard is what the minister told the CBC in front of the National Assembly.
“We have not received a formal report on the probe. We have asked for it and I have had a discussion with the Finance Minister and I have told her that at the time she completes her report and there is a case of any bank that is involved, we would like to take it up and we would take action.”
At the recent probe of the management of the fund, the chairman of the Pension Reform Taskforce, Abdulrasheed Maina, as well as officials from the office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation were locked on a titanic battle over the management of the pensions funds, with each party accusing the other of mismanagement of the fund.
On the involvement of some banks in the entire saga, the Assistant Chief Accountant of the Police Pension Office in the HOCSF, Toyin Ishola, alleged that Mr. Maina spent over N240 million on a biometric exercise to capture the data for less than 20 retirees in the Diaspora, while another N220 million was spent on a similar exercise involving the local bio-data gathering.
In addition, he also alleged that the Chairman of the Task Reform Taskforce unilaterally opened three accounts in First Bank Plc, United Bank for
Africa Plc, and Fidelity Bank Plc in Abuja where he lodged a total of N21billion without recourse to extant financial rules and approval from the Accountant-General of the Federation and the Minister of Finance.