The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has debunked rumours that it is investigating the bank following fraud allegations.
The anti-graft agency was reacting to stories that the bank was under an investigation into dealings arising from a bank account managed by the Oyo State Government and domiciled with Heritage Bank.
The EFCC says there has been no links to the bank and its Managing Director, Ifie Sekibo, in the widely spread allegations.
When the story came out, the bank had firmly denied reports suggesting that the bank and its Managing Director have refused to cooperate with the EFCC’s investigation, including ignoring a series of invitations by the commission because of possible personal ties to the state government.
Media reports had claimed that the EFCC invited Sekibo because of an alleged role in the alleged diversion of ₦13 billion belonging to the Oyo State Government.
According to the reports, the said monies were lodged in secret accounts with the bank in connivance with some top state government officials.
However, the Oyo State Government had come out to say it had no knowledge of the said allegation, with the State Finance and Information Commissioners stating that they were unaware of any such incident or issues with their bank accounts and malfeasance
Heritage Bank had also maintained that the investigation was just restricted to the account that is the subject of the EFCC inquiry.
The bank insisted that the account was part of a raft of accounts inherited as part of its acquisition of Enterprise Bank from the Asset Management Company of Nigeria [AMCON], and the EFCC was seeking certain information on the said account, following a petition over certain issues relating to them.
Reacting to the allegation, the Group Head, Corporate Communication, Heritage Bank, Mr. Fela Ibidapo said that the EFCC was investigating some accounts at the bank but they were a fairly routine process.
“There is no management fraud. There is a customer’s account that the EFCC is interested in and the normal thing is to talk to the account officer. They are just investigating an account entry.
They have invited the relationship manager. It is still being investigated and for confidential issues, I can’t divulge more than that.”
The EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, confirmed that the commission was investigating some accounts at the bank but refused to give more information.
“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.”
The development is what is known in banking as an acquisition/combination issue. It is understood that any contentious issues with respect to banks are typically handled by the bank regulator, the Central Bank of Nigeria [CBN], while the EFCC deals with issues arising from infraction in banking transactions and regulatory infractions with potential fraudulent implications.