The Central Bank of Nigeria on Monday said that it had invoked disciplinary measures against its officials that were involved in the N8bn currency fraud in its Ibadan branch.
The CBN, in a statement by its Director, Corporate Communications Department, Ibrahim Mu’azu, stated that some of the affected members of staff, mainly middle-level officers, had been either summarily dismissed or placed on indefinite suspension depending on the level of their involvement in the scam.
The statement issued in Abuja read, “The Central Bank of Nigeria would like to inform the general public of the chronology of events that led the management of the CBN to hand over some unscrupulous staff to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for prosecution.
“During a routine internal audit of the bank’s cash destruction activities in September 2014, the CBN Briquetting Panel, comprising senior bank staff from different branches, noticed some anomalies at the Ibadan branch and immediately reported this to the bank’s management.
“On further investigation ordered by the governor, it was discovered that a systematic scheme, which has been on for several years, was being run in which mutilated higher denomination notes originally meant for destruction were swapped with lower denomination currencies.
“This practice, known as interleafing, basically labels a box with a higher value than its true content.
“As soon as the bank’s internal investigations concluded beyond reasonable doubt that some wrongdoing had occurred, the affected members of staff, who are middle-level officers, were, depending on gravity of offence, either summarily dismissed or immediately placed on indefinite suspension on October 21, 2014, and all handed over to the EFCC for further investigation and prosecution.”
The bank also said that following the incident, a nationwide audit of all 37 branches of the CBN were conducted, noting that the outcome of the investigation showed that this was an isolated scheme at the Ibadan branch of the bank.
The apex bank, the statement noted, would continue to collaborate with the EFCC to ensure that the affected CBN employees, as well as their accomplices in some commercial banks, were brought to justice.
The EFCC had said on Tuesday that five top officials of the CBN and 16 others were to be arraigned for alleged complicity in an N8bn currency fraud.
The Head of Media and Publicity of the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, said in an electronic mail on Sunday that the suspects would be arraigned at the Federal High Court, Ibadan, Oyo State, on June 2 for circulating defaced and mutilated currency notes.
Uwujaren had said, “The Economic and Financial Crime Commission has concluded arrangement to arraign in court five top executives of the Central Bank of Nigeria implicated in a mega scam involving the theft and recirculation of defaced and mutilated currencies.
“The suspects, drawn from various business units of the apex bank, are to be put in the dock by the anti-graft agency before a Federal High Court sitting in Ibadan, Oyo State, from Tuesday, June 2, 2015 to Thursday June 4, 2015. The remaining 16 suspects are drawn from various commercial banks that were found to have conspired with the CBN executives to swing the heist.
“All the suspects who are currently in the custody of the EFCC are now ruing the day they literally allowed greed and craze for materialism to becloud their sense of judgment and responsibility, when they elected to help themselves to tonnes of defaced Naira notes.
“Instead of carrying out the statutory instruction to destroy the currency, they substituted it with newspapers neatly cut to Naira sizes and proceeded to recycle the defaced and mutilated currency.”
“The fraud is partly to be blamed for the failure of government monetary policy over the years as currency mop up exercises by the apex bank failed to check the inflationary pressure on the economy.
“The lid on the scam, which is widely suspected to have gone on unchecked for years, was blown on November 3, 2014 via a petition to the EFCC alleging that over N6,575,549,370.00 was cornered and discreetly recycled by light fingered top executives of the CBN at the Ibadan branch.”