Heritage Bank MD, Others Deny Involvement In N13bn Fraud

The Management, Managing Director of Heritage Bank Plc, Ifie Sekibo, have denied involvement in the alleged diversion of N13 billion belonging to the Oyo State Government.

Reports have it that Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, was after the bank’s MD Ifie Sekibo and other staff members of the bank for allegedly diverting the money belonging to the Oyo State government.

Heritage Bank in a statement on Sunday stated that neither Ifie Sekibo “nor any member of the management staff of the bank is being investigated by the EFCC on a N13billion fraud”.

“Contrary to the false report released by Sunday Punch Newspaper and other online news platforms, the EFCC had informed the bank of an account (not related to Oyo state government as likewise verified by the Punch Newspaper via the State’s Finance Commissioner) being investigated by the agency.

“Over the last week, the bank has fully cooperated with EFCC by providing various documentation and also presented its staff in this regard.

“Management finds it distasteful, unethical and unprofessional of these media houses to tarnish the image of Mr Ifie Sekibo – MD/CEO and the bank.
“We urge the general public to disregard the article in its entirety”, the bank said.

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Punch had reported that Sekibo allegedly ignored a series of invitations from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for his role in the alleged diversion.

An EFCC top source said, “We recently got information about some suspicious accounts in Heritage Bank. We believe the funds in the accounts are part of the proceeds of crime, particularly money laundering and outright diversion of public funds.

“We received intelligence reports from some concerned citizens that the money, which is about N13bn was diverted from Oyo State between 2014 and 2015 and the money found its way into some secret accounts fraudulently manipulated by top management of Heritage Bank on behalf of some prominent government officials of Oyo State.

“The money was deposited in a secret fixed account with an agreement to share the accrued interest among them.

“About N1.3bn was paid into a company’s account from which the bank’s managing director, directly benefitted N180m. The sum of N85m was kept in another fixed account in 2015, suspected to be for another top executive of the bank.

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“There are other fixed deposit accounts where money had been lodged since 2015, known to and operated by top management of the bank, without proper documentations.”

Detectives of the EFCC were said to have stormed the bank’s head office last week to recover some sensitive documents.

The source added, “Letters of invitation sent to the bank officials were not honoured. Some officials were arrested and have made useful statements to the commission.

“The bank’s MD, who we believe to be deeply involved in the scam, did not honour several invitations sent to him by the commission. There are indications that the MD may have fled the country to one of the European countries as some bank officials claimed he had gone for medical trip abroad.”

EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, confirmed that the commission was investigating some accounts at the bank.

He said, “It is true that some of our people went to the bank but it was a routine investigation. They went to get documents in relation to the investigation. I cannot say more than that for now.”