Call for NEXIM chairman’s removal linked to high level fraud-investigation

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Ongoing investigation has revealed that the recent call for the removal of Chairman of Nigeria Export-Import Bank (NEXIM) Dr. Okwu Joseph Nnanna is a fallout of the a forensic audit commissioned by the bank’s new board which has uncovered sharp practices in loans disbursement by the former management.

A call by a group, Awareness for Good Governance Group (AGGG) for the removal the chairman is said to be orchestrated by the move to ensure that the findings of the forensic audit did not see the light of day.

Nnanna’s new board, in a bid to plug all avenues through which fraud is perpetrated in the bank, commissioned the audit which exposed different levels of procedural abuse fraught with high level of fraud in the disbursement of the loans by the former management.

Findings from sources within the Bank and those close to the audit firm, Price Waterhouse and Coopers (PwC) indicated that there were several violations of laid down procedures, which increased the risk burden of the bank to the extent that non-performing loans (NPLs) of NEXIM rose to about 91% of loans granted by the bank.

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According to the source,  prior to Nnanna’s assumption of office as chairman in March 2018, the NPL of the bank stood at about N48.9 billion out of a total loan portfolio of N53 billion, which negated the corporate pursuit of the bank to have NPLs at a maximum level of 10%.

The sources alleged wrong doings by a former company secretary of NEXIM, revealing that about 181 out of 191 loans granted before the assumption of the Nnanna board were non-performing. They added that as many as a third of the documents also did not have supporting or verifiable documents to justify the loan applications and subsequent disbursements.

“That level of fraud within the system is perhaps why the CBN is yet to activate the N500 billion Export Stimulation Fund which was set up to promote non-oil exports in Nigeria,” the source said.

While the sources revealed that the Management of NEXIM will brief the media on the situation on Monday, May 6, 2019, a statement issued by the bank on Thursday, May 2, 2019, dismissed the allegations by the AGGG, describing them as misleading and targeted at tarnishing “the reputation of Dr. Nnanna as well as diverting attention from the on-going efforts by the board to address cases of gross mismanagement and poor state of affairs of the Bank under the old management which had since been sacked by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari.”

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