The Central Bank of Nigeria on Sunday night said that contrary to claims in some quarters, there was no money missing or stolen from the apex bank.
The bank said this in a statement signed by the Director, Corporate Communications Department, CBN, Isaac Okorafor.
The statement was in reaction to a purported audio recording of selective conversations among the Governor, Deputy Governor and some senior officials of the bank.
The statement said contrary to the narrative that the discussion was about a fraudulent transaction, the beginning of the conversation was omitted to create a different impression to a misunderstanding that affected the bank’s balance sheet.
The statement read in part, “As publicly known, the CBN was approached in 2015 by the National Economic Management Team and the National Economic Council, 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 Federation Account Allocation Committee allocations.
“In order to ensure that ordinary Nigerian workers got their salaries, pensions and gratuities and that the economy continued to recover from a recession, the bank provided about N650bn in loans at nine per cent 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.”
The statement said in closing the bank’s 2018 accounts, external auditors in their draft account, erroneously classified about N150bn of the loans as bad, which negatively affected the apex bank’s balance sheet and shareholders’ fund.
It said the selective conversation being circulated was simply a discussion to ascertain why the auditors took that position and next steps to resolve it.
It added, “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 certified that the CBN’s 2018 accounts were a true reflection of the state of affairs.”
The statement explained that the reconciliation of balance sheet items are regular conversations among senior management of many agencies and should not be misconstrued.
“Had the online media, which released the selective recordings, sought the comments of the 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, therefore, urges all well-meaning Nigerians to disregard this audio and continue to trust that the bank is doing everything it can to represent their interests in the best possible way.”
The statement said under the leadership of Godwin Emefiele, the CBN had always stood for, and vigorously pursued transparency in its stewardship of public resources and policies.
“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 the 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,” it added.
The statement explained that the bank would pursue every legal means to bring the perpetrators to justice.