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Investors Panic As Ecobank Undergoes Probe For Report Manipulation. ED Indicts CEO, Chairman

Kolapo-Lawson

The storm in Ecobank around Kolapo Lawson, the Bank’s chairman is far from over! There are fresh allegations.

In view of recent media reports on Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)  Tuesday confirmed it was investigating allegations of corporate governance breaches at the pan-African bank.

The commission, which disclosed this in a statement, assured investors that it would ensure that they are adequately protected.

The bank’s Executive Director of Risk and Finance,  Laurence do Rego had last month alleged that she was pressured to write off debts owed by a business chaired by ETI’s Chairman, Mr. Kolapo Lawson, and had also alleged that the bank’s 2012 results were manipulated.

“We assure the investing public that the investigation will as usual be thorough and rigorous and will ensure adequate protection of the investors,” SEC declared.

Meanwhile, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ETI, Mr. Thierry Tanoh, is expected to forgo a $1.14 million bonus for 2012 as the bank reviews its corporate governance structure following Rego’s allegations.

Also, Rego is expected to meet the board next week, the bank’s spokesman, Jeremy Reynolds, told Bloomberg via an e-mail.

The ETI had on Monday insisted that its 2012 consolidated financial statement was audited and properly certified by its auditor, the PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

The pan-African bank had also said the result was published under the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), contrary to allegation that it was misstated.

Continuing, Reynolds said the bank, which operates in more African countries than any other, would appoint external advisers to review governance.

He noted that while the bank did not agree with Rego’s allegations, “she has the opportunity to elaborate and present her evidence to the board.”

Rego is not attending work at Ecobank while the bank investigates a possible misstatement of her qualifications made when she joined 11 years ago, Reynolds said.   Rego had said she did not lie about her qualifications.

The new allegations against Ecobank emerged after SEC met with the board last month. Lawson had also reached an agreement with the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) over his outstanding debts.

Ecobank’s board had also said there was no financial impropriety by Lawson.

“ETI will continue to cooperate fully with any of the regulators in its 34 African markets. ETI fully subscribes to strong ethical standards and transparency and continues to value the role of regulators in all jurisdictions in which it operates,” Ecobank said on Monday.

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