EFCC issues final warning to bank chiefs on asset declaration

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has issued a final warning to over 120 managing directors and top executives of banks to submit their asset declaration forms.

The anti-graft agency gave the top bankers till the end of June to obey the directive.

The EFCC Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, had initially in March given top bankers, among others, till June 1, 2021, to declare their assets in line with the Bank Employees, ETC (Declaration of Assets) Act 1986, with defaulters said to risk 10 years in jail if found guilty by any Federal High Court.

But the anti-graft agency extended the deadline till June 14 to allow bankers to comply with the order effectively.

However, it was learnt that the EFCC chairman had sent a final reminder to the affected banks executives and given them till the end of June to declare their assets.

“The truth is that this law has been in place for over 35 years, but it was hardly ever enforced and so these bankers would just declare anything or not declare at all. However, the EFCC is now demanding the declaration forms as part of moves to sanitise the system.

“To this effect, the chairman has written a reminder to the banks, asking all top executives to comply latest by the end of June,” an investigator revealed.

No fewer than 120 managing directors, deputy managing directors and executive directors of 19 deposit money banks are affected by the EFCC’s order.

Access Bank has 16 board members, United Bank for Africa has 15, Sterling Bank and EcoBank have 13 members each, while First Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank and Fidelity Bank have 12 members each as indicated on their official websites.

Others are Zenith Bank, 11; Wema Bank, 11; Union Bank 11; First City Monument Bank, 9; and Unity Bank, 8.

According to the Bank Employees, ETC (Declaration of Assets) Act 1986, bankers should declare their assets through the appropriate authority like the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation. But the forms were hardly ever scrutinised, a trend which the EFCC seeks to change..

Bawa had noted sometime in March that the anti-corruption agency is worried about the role that financial institutions and bankers play in corruption.

He said: “We understood that at the tail end of every financial crime, it is for the criminal to have access to the funds that he or she has illegitimately acquired and we are worried about the roles of financial institutions.

“We have discussed, but we hope that all financial institutions, particularly the bankers, will declare their assets as provided for by the law, in accordance with the Bank Employees Declaration of Assets Act.

Apparently giving impetus to the EFCC directive, the House of Representatives recently passed for second reading a bill to make it compulsory for workers in the banking, insurance and pension industries to declare their assets.

The proposed law will also bar staff members of banks and other financial institutions from operating accounts outside the shores of Nigeria. Their spouses and children may also be required to declare their assets when a bill currently at the House becomes law.

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