The management of Zenith Bank has reacted to the arrest of its top executive by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The bank, in a disclosure notice signed by its head of corporate communication, Victor Adoji, on Tuesday claimed its official was “invited” by the anti-graft agency in relation to an on-going issue between the Rivers State Government and the EFCC with regards to the government’s accounts with the bank.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the Group Managing Director of the bank, Peter Amangbo, was arrested over a series of transactions his bank allegedly carried out on behalf of one of Nigeria’s largest oil-producing states, Rivers.
The EFCC alleged that the transactions, at least N117 billion in value, are suspicious in nature; but that Zenith failed to report them as demanded by law.
Insiders at the EFCC and Zenith Bank said Mr. Amangbo was held to explain why his bank failed to document the withdrawals, allegedly done over a three-year period, as suspicious. Mr Amangbo was first invited for questioning on August 23, sources said. But he was freed on administrative bail and asked to return on August 24 for further interrogation. He was questioned again on Monday and was still at the EFCC office on Monday night, sources at the commission told PREMIUM TIMES.
The bank in its disclosure said the EFCC requested details of how the River State government’s accounts were operated in terms of utilisation of funds over a period of time. The bank, however, did not disclose details of the invitation and questioning of its GMD.
“As a responsible corporate citizen, the bank honoured the invitation during which our GMD clarified the areas of concern with the commission,” the disclosure, sent to the Nigerian Stock Exchange, read.
Earlier on Sunday, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers slammed the investigation as “political witch-hunt,” saying he would continue to prevent state officials from appearing before the EFCC for questioning.
“No government official will appear before the EFCC,” Mr Wike was quoted as saying in a statement his spokesperson, Simeon Nwakaudu, sent to PREMIUM TIMES Sunday night. He added that an Appeal Court judgement in 2007 prohibited the EFCC from prying into Rivers State coffers, a ruling he claimed had not been appealed.
The EFCC investigation comes two weeks after the agency froze bank accounts owned by Benue and Akwa Ibom states.