Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has released the CEOs of two Nigerian banks after the men returned billions of naira they had illicitly acquired from political slush funds during the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, the immediate past president of Nigeria.
Two EFCC sources told media reporters that Sterling Bank’s CEO, Yemi Adeola, who was arrested on Wednesday in a raid on his bank by EFCC operatives, was released last night after he deposited a payment of N5 billion. According to one of our sources, the money returned by Mr. Adeola was in partial restitution for a transaction of $88 million he received from Nigeria’s former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke.
Mr. Adeola is expected to pay back a total of N17 billion to the recovery accounts of the Nigerian treasury within two weeks.
Also released last night was Herbert Wigwe, the Managing Director of Access Bank Plc., who was arrested yesterday after EFCC agents raided the bank headquarters in Lagos.
A source at the EFCC told reporters that some notable personalities, including Oba Akiolu of Lagos and the bank’s former CEO, Aig-Imokhuede, had pressured the anti-corruption agency to grant Mr. Wigwe bail. “We refused all such entreaties until Mr. Wigwe returned $5 million.” EFCC investigators said Zenith Bank had illicitly transferred the $5 million to Access Bank from a slush fund arranged by Ms. Alison-Madueke.
The EFCC source said the agency was conducting discreet investigations and recoveries of plundered funds from rogue bank CEOs who assisted Ms. Alison-Madueke and other officials of President Jonathan’s administration to launder funds. He added that most of the funds were laundered through opaque accounts that were kept “off records” by bank MDS.
The case of Access Bank was also linked to oil businessmen Jide Omokore and Kola Aluko, now a fugitive. Between them, both men are suspected to have stolen more than $6 billion from oil proceeds that should have accrued to the Nigerian government treasury.
According to an EFCC source, the two oil businessmen’s link at Access Bank is an executive director, Angela Ebagua, who is Omokore’s wife. EFCC investigators who recently searched Ms. Ebagua’s Lagos home found her in possession of a $600,000 wristwatch.
One of our EFCC sources disclosed that the agency was now looking at First Bank. He said the EFCC’s investigation of the bank was focusing on the bank’s role in laundering more than $1 billion for the National Security Adviser’s office during the tenure of Colonel Sambo Dasuki, who is on trial for funneling billions of dollars of security funds into private hands. The source added that First Bank may have helped launder funds for Ms. Alison-Madueke, Mr. Omokore, and Mr. Aluko. EFCC officials recently invited a former CEO of the bank, Bisi Onasanya, for a chat.