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Money laundering: Fear of unknown grips DMBs, as EFCC shifts to banking sector

 

An air of uncertainty has pervaded the operations of Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) in the country, as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has recently shifted attention to the banking sector in its fight against corruption.

In barely two weeks, the anti-graft war agency has visited no less than three commercial banks in the country and still counting, according to a source close to the EFCC, who would not want to be named on the pages of a newspaper.

However, indications are rife that other banks whose Managing Directors and some top officials have been involved directly or indirectly in related shady deals have continued to be jittery over the probability of who is next to be arrested and quizzed by the EFCC.

The most recent among the bank Chiefs that had been arrested by the EFCC was Herbert Wigwe, Access Bank MD, who has been held for money laundering, since the bank’s corporate head office was raided on Friday.

 It was disclosed by an EFCC source that Mr. Wigwe was arrested over the alleged role he played in the huge sums of cash laundered through the bank by officials of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

Also, stated that some questionable funds located in the bank was also traced to former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke.

 EFCC investigators said Zenith Bank had illicitly transferred the sum of $5 million to Access Bank from a slush fund arranged by Ms. Alison-Madueke.

Earlier last week, operatives of EFCC were at the headquarters of Sterling Bank where they allegedly quizzed the Managing Director, Mr. Yemi Adeola.

The source pointed out that the money was transferred to Mr. Adeola from Fidelity Bank of Nigeria whose managing director, Nnamdi Okonkwo, was last week detained by the EFCC, but was released late on Thursday.

But the lender had subsequently named the Executive Director, North, Mr. Balarabe Musa, as acting MD, and said that it can confirm that the transactions were duly reported as required by the regulators and the bank was cooperating fully with the authorities on the investigation.

According to the bank, “we assure our numerous stakeholders, including our customers that we are working assiduously towards a quick resolution of the issues.”

Meanwhile, financial stakeholders have assured Nigerians and bank customers over the sound level of the nation’s banking system, while adding that the recent anti-graft war agency in the banking would not affect the sector neither the economy.

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