The Central Bank of Nigeria on Sunday said that contrary to media report alleging that a sum of N500 billion was either stolen or missing from the bank, some external auditors made a clerical error and classified some loans as bad.
“In closing the Bank’s 2018 accounts, external auditors in their Draft Account, erroneously classified about N150 billion of these loans as bad, which negatively affected the Bank’s Balance Sheet and shareholders fund. The selective conversation being circulated was simply a discussion to ascertain why the auditors took that position and next steps to resolving it.”
The bank goes on to say that “no monies are missing or stolen” adding that the CBN, led by Governor Godwin Emefiele “has always stood for, and vigorously pursued transparency in its stewardship of public resources and policies,” adding that: “The integrity of the CBN Governor remains unassailable.”
The allegation of stolen or missing money from the bank is coming days after the central bank governor was re-appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari for a second term, making Godwin Emefiele the first two-term governor since Nigeria returned to democracy 1999. A Nigerian digital media outlet had alleged that the regulatory bank’s governor, Godwin Emefiele had connived with his Deputy Edward Lametek Adamu as well as other top officials in the bank to “cover up the loss of over N500 billion stolen from the CBN in a private investment that went bust.”
The digital media outlet claimed to have obtained a recording of the alleged cover up, but the counter alleged that the earlier part of the conversation in the earlier said recording was “omitted to create a different impression” according to the CBN.
The central bank, in an emailed written statement, denying the media report, explained that “CBN was approached in 2015 by the National Economic Management Team and the National Economic Council (NEC), chaired by the Vice President, to assist State Governments with Conditional Budget Support, in the aftermath of the significant nose-dive in global oil prices and associated FAAC allocations.
“In order to ensure that ordinary Nigerian workers got their salaries, pensions and gratuities, and that the economy continued to recover from recession, the Bank provided about N650 billion in loans at 9% with a two-year grace period to 35 States of the Federation. These monies were distributed to the States monthly with documented approval of the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Presidency.
“Obviously, it soon became clear that a State Government loan cannot be classified as “bad” or “irrecoverable” when the State still exists and getting FAAC allocations. The Bank then reached out to the Federal Ministry of Finance and they jointly gave comfort to the auditors who accepted in writing that these monies would be repaid.
“On this basis, the auditors reversed the negative entry and then certified that the CBN’s 2018 accounts were a true reflection of the State of Affairs. Reconciliation of Balance Sheet items are regular conversations amongst Senior Management of many agencies and should not be misconstrued as anything but that. Had the online medium which released the selective recordings sought the comments of CBN as required of journalism practice, we would have provided it.”
The bank claims that the “use of selective wiretapped conversations of the Bank’s Management, to malign his character and integrity will never stand. The Bank will pursue every legal means to bring the perpetrators to justice.”