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Sunday , 17 December 2017

Sterling Bank denies holding US$46.5m NAPIMS and NNPC funds

STERLING Bank Plc has denied holding the sum of US$46.5 million (Forty-Six, Million, Five Hundred Thousand United States Dollars Only) alleged to be an undisclosed qualifying funds under the Federal Government’s Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy.

The fund was said to have been kept illegally, by the National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS) and Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC).

Sterling Bank in a statement signed by its Chief Marketing Officer, Brand Management & Communication department, Henry Bassey stated: “We wish to state unequivocally that Sterling Bank does not hold any sum in any currency as a deposit from either of these entities.”

It noted that the Bank’s attention has been drawn to reports in certain publications of an order by the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Thursday 20th July 2017 mandating Sterling Bank Plc to remit the said amount to a designated Federal Government Asset Recovery Account with the Central Bank of Nigeria.

“We have therefore written formally to the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) demanding a clarification of this claim and a correction in the interest of the general public,” the statement read in part.

It should be recalled that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), ten months ago suspended nine commercial banks from trading in the interbank foreign exchange (IFEX) market for failing to remit a total of $2.33 billion belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation/Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Company to the federal government’s Treasury Single Account (TSA).

However, a Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday ordered seven of the banks to temporarily remit a total of $793.2 million allegedly still domiciled with them in contravention of the TSA policy.

Justice Chuka Obiozor ordered the seven banks – Diamond Bank, United Bank for Africa (UBA), FirstBank, Skye Bank, Fidelity Bank, Sterling Bank and the defunct Keystone Bank (acquired by Heritage Bank) – to remit the various amounts allegedly kept “illegally in their custody” to the designated federal government asset recovery dollar account domiciled with the CBN.

According to the court papers filed by counsel for the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Prof Yemi Akinseye-George (SAN), a total of $367.4 million was illegally hidden by three government agencies in UBA, while the sum of $41 million was illegally kept in a National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMs) fixed deposit account with Skye Bank.

The court papers further stated that $277.9 million was hidden in Diamond Bank; $18.9 million in FirstBank; $24.5 million in Fidelity Bank; $17 million in Keystone Bank; and $46.5 million in Sterling Bank

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