Heritage Bank Denies Staff’s Involvement in N150m Fraud

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By Modupe Gbadeyanka

One of the lenders in Nigeria, Heritage Bank, has reacted to reports making the rounds that its employees were involved in a N150 million fraud in connivance with agents of MTN Nigeria.

Yesterday, the Special Fraud Unit of the Nigeria Police Force in Lagos paraded three bankers suspected to have hacked into bank accounts of customers and diverting a total sum of N150 million in the process.

The bankers were Oyelade Shola-Isaac (32), Osuolale Hammid (40), and Akeem Adesina (33).

They were shown to the media along with eight other suspects in connection with the fraud.

Three of the accomplices, Okpetu John (29), Chukwumnoso Ifeanyi (30), and Salako Abdulsalam were said to be MTN agents, while others were identified as Ismaeel Salami (49) Akinola Oghuan (34), Sarumi Abubakar (32), James Idagu (56), and Sunday Okeke (33).

Some reports had linked Heritage Bank to the three bankers arrested in connection with the alleged crime at an eatery in the Bode Thomas area of the state.

But the bank, in  a statement, dissociated itself from the apprehended bank officials, stressing that they were never on its payroll.

“Our attention has been brought to the report published by an online news blog, Per Second News, in which it was purported that ‘three of Heritage Bank staff’ were involved in an N150 million fraud in collusion with two of MTN’s staff.

“Heritage Bank Plc wants to categorically state that the following persons said to have been the perpetrators of the fraud; Oyelade Shola-Isaac, 32, Osuolale Hammid, 40, and Akeem Adesina, 33 were never staff of Heritage Bank Plc at any time.

“We wish to make it clear that Heritage Bank disproves the antics of such blogger, who seems determined to discredit the institution, even to the extent of risking being seen clearly as careless and unprofessional.

“We consider it our duty to continue to provide our stakeholders with accurate information where it concerns us, as your confidence and support is of utmost importance to us,” the statement signed by management of the lender said.

Meanwhile, police authorities have promised to prosecute the suspects in court as soon as investigations were concluded.

Spokesman of the SFU, ASP Lawal Audu, who paraded the suspects on Monday, explained that the bankers carried out the fraud on the accounts of customers, who did not subscribe to Internet banking.

“The work of the network provider suspects was to assist the bankers to swap the SIM cards of the targeted bank customers so that they were unable to receive alerts of any transactions on their accounts within the period that money was stolen from their accounts.

“The suspects, after successful withdrawals of the money, transferred the money into about 40 different accounts to avoid being detected.

“They carried out their operations at weekends and public holidays so as to evade being detected by the bank monitoring mechanisms or the owners of the accounts. They defrauded their victims to the tune of over N150m,” Mr Audu told newsmen.

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