Zenith Bank In N7.4 Billion Fraud As Manager Flees Abroad
A fraud of N7.4 billion has been uncovered at a Zenith bank branch in Area 7, Abuja in the Nigeria federal capital territory, FCT. The man at the centre of the large scale fraud, Leonard Okoh who is a deputy manager in the bank is said to have fled the country to evade arrest.
While Okoh is lucky to have escaped, seven other members of staff of Zenith bank who work with him may not be as lucky as they are said to be presently facing interrogation at the Police Force Criminal Investigation Department, Abuja.
It was gathered that Okoh has been in charge of Investment and Small- Scale Enterprises as well as savings by Primary Mortgage Institutions (PMIs) at the Area 7 branch of the bank in Abuja.According to the provision of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Act, the “PMIs are expected to manage their saving inflow and route their cheques for clearance through banks.”
Findings showed that investment funds and PMIs savings under the management of the fleeing Manager as at January amounted to over N7, 437,500,000.
The fraud was said to have been discovered on March 8, 2010 when the Treasury Department of the bank had interaction with some investors and PMIs. Out of the total fund taken away from the bank, about N4 billion was said to be part of PMIs deposits out of which N3 billion is said to be deposits of Aso Savings and Loans Limited.
A source said: “The Treasury Department discovered some abnormalities including fake deposit records, arbitrary award of loans by the affected Manager and false entries where it became inevitable to account.
“The Manager could not account for over N7.4billion when confronted by the management of the bank.
“To the chagrin of everybody the Deputy Manager ran out of Nigeria with members of his entire family barely 24 hours after the discovery of the scandal. Up till now, neither the bank nor the police could locate him
Following the discovery, the source added that the bank management and Aso Savings Limited reported the case to the Nigeria Police for investigation.
A highly-placed source said: “The Force Criminal Investigation Department has started investigation into the scam.
“I am aware seven staff of the bank have been invited for questioning. Some of the beneficiaries of the so-called loans given by the Manager have also been quizzed.
“One of those quizzed is one Ambassador Moses Orire, who admitted at the FCID that he took a ‘personal loan’ of N3.1billion from the Manager.
“But the case is taking a new turn as the police are encouraging all parties to settle the matter amicably. We learnt that the police took the step because the fleeing Manager is a personal friend of a big man in the National Assembly.”
iReports-ng gathered that since the scandal broke out, the management of Zenith bank has been moving round Nigerian media houses to ensure that the fraud is not reported. The bank is reputed to be very good at doing this. Just last year, the bank successfully ensured that the story about the N3.2 billion money laundering case involving four of its managers in Port Harcourt, Rivers state was not reported by any Nigerian newspaper.