Forensic audit: Court restrains 2 CBN officials

Two top executives of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) have been ordered by a Federal High Court in Abuja

Two top executives of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) have been ordered by a Federal High Court in Abuja not to carry out their supervisory functions in a forensic audit involving a microfinance bank, over their alleged role in sidelining an executive order from the CBN Governor. They were alleged to have frustrated the implementation of a forensic audit, which was declared by the Governor after a petition by the owners of Hasal Microfinance Bank Limited.

Sequel to a petition made to CBN by the directors of Hasal Microfinance Bank Limited, the CBN governor had detailed former Deputy Governor, Economi Policy Director, Supervision, Dr. Okwu J. Nnanna, and one Emmanuel Zakari of the Development Finance Institution Coordination (CBN)to supervise an audit in the bank to ascertain the nature of the alleged fraudulent practices there in.

Having failed to carry out the CBN directive, a board member and majority shareholder petitioned the Abuja High Court to get an order of the court to implement the CBN directive, which was sidelined for several months.

Delivering an order on the application few weeks ago, Justice B. F. M. Nyako, after upholding almost all the applications made by the plaintiffs in their affidavit to the court, ruled, “that an order is made directing the 2nd (Dr. Okwu J. Nnanna) and 3rd defendants (Mr. Emmanuel Zakari) not to interfere directly or indirectly, participate or in any manner supervise the audit of the 4th defendant (Hasal Microfinance Bank Limited).”

This order became necessary based on the alleged roles of the two CBN officials and the estranged chief executive of the bank whom the petitioners accused of multiple financial frauds and conspiracy through which illegal swaps and forgeries were believed to have been perpetrated by the bank’s management.

The CBN governor had in December 2016 and February 2017, written a letter to the board of Hasal Microfinance conveying an approval pursuant to Section 33(1)(e)(i) of Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA) for the conduct of forensic audit of the entire books of the bank, an order which the two top officials of CBN were alleged to have delayed, frustrated, thwarted and undermined the forensic audit approved by the governor of CBN.

The court upheld all the 17 applications made by the directors of Hasal and went further to indicate that CBN has a duty to properly regulate, ensure best practices and to identify through careful and transparent audit, any form of corruption malfeasance of any nature in the management of Hasal Microfinance Bank Limited and any delay, refusal or failure to quickly, diligently and transparently carry out an audit approved pursuant to the relevant sections of BOFIA for the conduct of a forensic audit of the entire books of the microfinance bank.

However, shareholders of the bank are not amused as CBN, which ordered the forensic audit and for whose letters, orders and directives the court upheld the petitioners’ applications, has gone to court to challenge the position of court along with the estranged management of the microfinance bank.

There are serious questions over the ordering of the forensic report by the apex bank and its sudden appearance to appeal the position of the Abuja High Court over the audit. Investors are worried that the CBN governor ordered for forensic audit, the court agreed, and CBN then turned round to go to court again, after the court has ruled and granted the prayers of the applicant who was initially encouraged by CBN.

From the ongoing, it is worrisome to investors as to why the apex bank prefers the court as solution to a purely regulatory problem, which alleged cases of official misdemeanour have been levelled against its key officers.

The post appeared first on The Sun News.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *