For one of Nigeria’s oldest financial institutions, Ecobank Nigeria Limited, it has become a case of one day, one trouble as the bank led by Patrick Akinwuntan has continued to swim in the sea of controversies amidst financial improprieties. And as it stands, the bank is perfecting its acts that may qualify it as enfante terrible in the banking sector, as its name and staffers constantly prop up in one controversy or the other.
Reports available to THE WITNESS indicate that Ecobank Nigeria, a key subsidiary of the Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI) and its management are currently the focus of Nigeria’s banking regulator, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) following several financial scandals by the bank and its staffers.
As a result of several alleged undercutting within the system and alleged fraudulent dealings of the bank, insiders have squealed that Akinwuntan may be axed soon for his incompetence to pave way for a new lease of life for the commercial bank.
Top on the list of financial controversies which have bedevilled the bank is an alleged fraud running into N800 million or above against the Nasarawa State government. This was unearthed following the engagement of a forensic accounting consultancy firm based in Lagos by the Nasarawa State Board of Internal Revenue to assist in the improvement of its internally-generated revenue (IGR) base of excess bank charges, high network individuals, withholding tax on dividends, interest, and deposits against banks operating in the state from 29th May 1999.
After a hectic and thorough forensic auditing by the firm, it was discovered that the Akinwuntan-led Ecobank Nigeria Limited brazenly defrauded the Nasarawa State government of an earth-quaking sum of over N800 million in unremitted tax and 10 per cent withholding tax on credit interest monies.
Sources further alleged that apart different cases of fraud facing the bank in court, the commercial bank is also grappling with many other crises that tend to threaten its survival. One of them is its alleged poor services which are staring its customers in the face. Already, most of its branches are awash with complaints of unsatisfied customers whose sing-song is their plan to close their accounts due to long hours they experience to get services from Ecobank staff.
“When Akinwuntan was appointed in 2018 as the managing director, the board of the bank gave a mandate to deliver the brand promise of the bank as the platform of choice for convenient, affordable and instant banking services to customers in Nigeria, but today, the reverse is the case,” the source divulged.
In line with THE WITNESS investigative journalism practice, our reporter contacted Ecobank’s head of media relations, Mr. Austen Osokpor for the bank’s angle to the report. The bank’s spokesperson, however, promised to get back to our reporter but never did as at the time of filing this report.