Two former bank executives sacked by Nigeria’s central bank earlier this month are wanted for fraud, insider trading and money laundering, police said.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said Cecilia Ibru, former chief executive officer of Oceanic Bank, and ex-head of Intercontinental Bank Erastus Akingbola failed to show up for questioning last week following a $2.6 billion (R20.2 billion) bailout by the central bank of their institutions and three others.
“The two former bank executives are wanted in connection with fraudulent abuse of credit process, insider trading, capital market manipulation and money laundering running into billions of naira,” EFCC head Farida Waziri said.
The pair are among 19 senior executives the EFCC has targeted in its investigation following the rescue operation by the central bank, which said lax governance had left the banks so weakly capitalised that they posed a systemic risk.
The agency said it had detained 14 of them in Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos and was searching for the other five, Reuters reports.
“Apart from failing to honour the commission’s invitation, intensive search for the two executives in the last one week has not been successful,” Waziri said. “They obviously went into hiding to evade arrest.”
Akingbola, who local newspapers reported last week has fled to London, has launched a legal challenge against his firing and demanded 50 billion naira in damages, court papers showed last week. A hearing was set for August 28.
Ibru has also challenged her dismissal and is seeking 50 billion naira in damages, Nigeria’s ThisDay newspaper reported.
Analysts say criminal charges could be brought if executives are found to have falsified accounts or breached share price manipulation rules by setting up subsidiaries as vehicles to trade their own stock and push the share price higher.
The EFCC said it would question the auditors from the five rescued banks today after investigators found evidence of false accounting.
Pic: President Umaru Yar’ Adua of Nigeria