Access Bank Says GMD Invited, Not Arrested by EFCC

Access Bank Herbert Wigwe

The management of Access Bank Plc has vehemently denied reports that its group managing director, Mr Herbert Wigwe, was arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over allegations of fraud.

In a notice to the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) on Friday, the company secretary, Mr Sunday Ekwochi, explained that its officials, including Mr Wigwe, was only invited for interrogation over credit facilities that were availed Slok Nigeria Limited, owned by Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, by the defunct Diamond Bank Plc.

In March 2019, Access Bank completed its merger with Diamond Bank Plc and acquired all its assets and liabilities in the process. One of them was Slok Nigeria, which a court recently said should forfeit its assets to federal government after its owner was convicted for fraud while he was Governor of Abia State from 1999 to 2007.

At the weekend, some online news sites had reported that the Access Bank boss was arrested for his connection with the assets of Mr Kalu, alleged money laundering for former petroleum minister, Deziani Allison-Madueke, as well as alleged inflation of contracts linked to former Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode.

But in the disclosure, Access Bank refuted these claims, emphasising that its officials were at the EFCC to iron out issues concerning Mr Kalu, which it said have been resolved.

“Our attention has been drawn to a trending report on social media regarding the alleged arrest of Mr Herbert Wigwe, the Group Managing Director of Access Bank Plc by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

“We wish to state that the issue essentially relates to the credit facilities that were availed Slok Nigeria Limited by the defunct Diamond Bank plc and which were secured by Slok’s assets charged to Diamond. Access Bank had inherited the Slok credit following the recent merger of Diamond with Access Bank.

“Given the differing interest of the Commission and the Bank on the assets of Slok deriving from the court’s recent judgment on Slok, the Commission had invited for interrogation officials of Access Bank who were handling the Bank’s recovery efforts on Slok credit including its Group Managing Director.

“Following fruitful engagement between the Bank and the Commission, we are of the opinion that the issues relating to Slok investigation have been resolved.

“As an institution built on best practice, we wish to assure our esteemed stakeholders that the Bank will continue to conduct its business in line with extant laws and relations,” Mr Ekwochi said in the statement.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

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