Audio Recording: CBN absolves Emefiele, says no monies missing, stolen

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has dismissed a purported audio recording of the conversations amongst the Governor, Deputy Governor and some senior officials of the bank circulating on the social media alleging financial impropriety in the bank, describing it as headline-grabbing narrative.

The Bank in a statement signed by its Director, Corporate Communications, Isaac Okorafor explained that the conversation, the beginnings of which was omitted to create a different impression was simply to proffer solutions to a misunderstanding that affected the Bank’s balance sheet.

The CBN stated that “As publicly known the CBN was approached  in 2015 by the National Economic Management Team and the National Economic Council (NEC), chaired by the Vice President, to assist State Governments with Conditional Budget Support, in the aftermath  of  the  significant  nose-dive  in global  oil  prices  and  associated  FAAC allocations.

“In order to ensure that ordinary Nigerians workers  got their salaries, pensions  and  gratuities,  and  that  the  economy  continued  to  recover  from recession, the Bank provided about N650 billion in loans at 9% with a two-year grace period  to 35 States of the Federation.

“These monies were distributed to the States monthly with documented approval of the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Presidency. In closing the Bank’s 2018 accounts, external auditors in their Draft Account, erroneously classified about N150 billion of these loans as bad, which negatively affected the Bank’s Balance Sheet and shareholders fund.

“The  selective  conversation  being  circulated  was  simply  a  discussion  to  ascertain  why  the auditors  took  that  position  and  next  steps  to  resolving  it.  Obviously,  it  soon became clear that a State Government loan cannot be classified as “bad” or “irrecoverable” when the State still exists and getting FAAC allocations.

“The Bank then reached out to the Federal Ministry of Finance and they jointly gave comfort to the auditors who accepted in writing that these monies would be repaid. On this basis, the auditors reversed the negative entry and the certified that the CBN’s 2018 accounts were a true reflection of the State of Affairs.

“Reconciliation of Balance Sheet items are regular conversations amongst Senior Management of many agencies and should not be misconstrued as anything but that. Had the online media which released the selective recordings sought the comments of CBN as required of journalism practice, we would have provided it. Clearly those who listened to the audio can easily ascertain that the conversation had nothing to do with anything fraudulent as purported”, the Bank said in the statement”.

The Bank therefore urged all well-meaning Nigerians to disregard the audio and continue to trust that the Bank was doing everything it could to represent their interests in the best possible way adding that “under the leadership of Governor Emefiele, the CBN has always stood for, and vigorously pursued transparency in its stewardship of public resources and policies”.

It continued, “No monies are missing or stolen. The integrity of the CBN Governor remains unassailable. He has no account in Dubai or anywhere in the world and would never convert the funds of CBN for personal use. Not in the past, not now and not ever. The use of selective    wiretapped conversations of the Bank’s Management, to malign his character and integrity will never stand. The Bank will pursue every legal means to bring the perpetrators to justice”.

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