EFCC quizzes Zenith Bank MD over Gov. Wike’s cash withdrawals of N117billion

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Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State
Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has quizzed the managing director of Zenith Bank, Peter Olisamedua Amangbo, in connection with alleged N117b suspicious transactions by the Rivers State in the last three years.

Mr Amangbo has confessed that the bank raked in N5.2billion as charges on the transactions

The sums were cashed over the counter by state officials for “unknown purposes” suspected to be money laundering.

Peter Olisamedua Amangbo, Zenith Bank MD
Peter Olisamedua Amangbo, Zenith Bank MD

The anti-graft agency is hunting for four officials of the state who were central to the massive withdrawals.

Among the officials are the director of Finance and Accounts of the Government House in Port Harcourt, Fubara Similari and his cashier.

Sources in EFCC said the MD was quizzed on Thursday and granted bail at night before he was re-invited on Friday all through Sunday after being detained.

It could not be immediately ascertained if Amangbo has been released by the anti-corruption agency.

A top EFCC official said: “We have a case of unreported suspicious transactions which led to the invitation of the MD of Zenith Bank. We acted  after receiving financial  intelligence  alert.

“About N117billion was withdrawn in cash in the past three years by the Rivers State Government in violation of  the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011.

“The MD  cooperated with us confessed that the bank  saw the transactions as purely business issue and it realized about N5.2billion  as transaction charges.

“Definitely, the bank has a case to answer because of lack of Suspicious Transaction Report(STR) and violation of Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011.”

Concerning Rivers State Government, the EFCC detectives uncovered how the withdrawals were made.

“The bulk of the money was collected by one official over the counter with as many as 45 to 50 cheques issued in one day.

“The records retrieved showed that  on June 8, 2015, about N450million was cashed over the counter through 45 cheques  with each cheque worth N10million.

“The same thing was done on June 9, 2015 when N500million was cashed in bit of N10million. There is no record of what the cash was used for.

“There is a case of money laundering which we cannot gloss over. And it is good that the MD of Zenith Bank has admitted that the bank did not report the suspicion transactions.

“Our detectives are making progress and the nation will soon be briefed on the findings of the EFCC.”

Spokesman for Zenith Bank, Akin Olaniyan, could not be reached on his mobile line for comment as at the time of filing in this report.