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First Bank: CSO petitions CBN over alleged N550m fraud, illegal diversion of funds

*The Centre For Social and Economic Justice urges the Central Bank of Nigeria to investigate ‘the fraudulent activities, refund the money stolen, and illegally diverted by First Bank of Nigeria Limited’, and sanction the financial institution for unsafe practices in the banking sector

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

The Centre For Social and Economic Justice (CESEJ), Civil Society Organisation (CSO), has file a petition against the First Bank of Nigeria (FBN) Limited, one of the country’s major commercial banks, to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) over alleged fraud, diversion and misappropriation of funds to the tune of N550 million.

It was gathered Barrister U. I. Mohammed, Director of CESEJ, in a letter dated titled, “Petition Against First Bank of Nigeria For Fraud, Diversion And Misappropriation Of Funds Belonging To Dr Agbai Eke Agbai”, and dated May 29, 2024, purported that funds amounting to N550,000,000.00, belonging to Dr Agbai Eke Agbai, FBN customer with Fixed Deposit Account numbers – 6924010002639 and 5021000788976 – was illegally diverted, misappropriated and fraudulently taken by a staff of the commercial bank.

The letter, received at the Security Services Department of the banking sector regulator, and also copied to First Bank, alleged that certain Mrs. Shamlar Abosi, a staff of FBN, who is supposed to be Agbai’s account officer, illegally tampered with her client’s bank account.

The lawyer’s petition to CBN partly reads: “In 2014, Mrs. Shamlar Abosi, a staff of First Bank, approached Dr. Agbai Eke Agbai to deposit funds in First Bank for a Return on Investment.

“Dr. Agbai Eke Agbai after listening to the advice of Mrs Shamlar Abosi accepted to deposit funds in the bank for an agreed interest rate.”

The letter stated:

“Fixed Deposit Accounts were subsequently opened for Dr. Agbai Eke Agbai with the above-mentioned account numbers.

“The sum of ₦300,000,000.00 (Three Hundred Million Naira) only was deposited in Account Number – 6924010002639, which took effect on the 21st day of February, 2018 with interest rate of 14.5% with 364 days tenor, and the sum of ₦250,000,000.00 (Two Hundred and Fifty Million Naira) only was deposited in Account Number – 5021000788976, which took effect on the 19th day of October, 2018 with interest rate of 14.5% with 364 days tenor.”

The petitioner also noted: “After the maturity date of the investment, which is on the 20th of February, 2019 and 18th of October, 2019, respectively, in September, 2023, Dr. Agbai Eke Agbai informed First Bank of his intention not to renew the investment and requested his money to be transferred to his Savings Account domiciled with the bank with Account Number – 3079342444 immediately.

“Unfortunately, the money requested by Dr. Agbai Eke Agbai to be transferred to his savings account has not been credited till date after numerous efforts to remind the bank of its failure to carry out the request.

“It is also noteworthy and remarkable that Mrs Shamlar Abosi who persuaded Dr. Agbai Eke Agbai into investing in the Bank, who is also the account officer and business manager of the investment, has failed to provide explanation regarding the money of Dr. Agbai Eke Agbai.”

Barrister Mohammed urged the CBN to intervene in the matter.

He reportedly said “We urge the Central Bank of Nigeria to investigate the fraudulent activities enumerated above, refund the money stolen and illegally diverted by First Bank.”

The civil society organisation further urged the CBN to sanction the bank for unsafe practices, by invoking its powers, under Section 12 of the Banks and other Financial Institutions Act, 2020.

It is recalled the Osun State Police Command of the Nigeria Police recently disclosed its operatives arrested 47-year-old certain Mr. Adeniyi Sunday Talabi, a Manager of one of the branches First Bank of Nigeria, in Osogbo, Osun State capital for committing an offence of fraud, Obtaining Money under false Pretence (OBT), Conversion and Stealing of customers’ funds.

Mohammed Umar Abba, Osun State Commissioner of Police, in a statement had said that Talabi, who resides in the Army Barracks Area, Kelebe, Iragbiji Road, Osogbo, was a “serial fraudster and dupe”.

The Police authorities further alleged the Bank Manager was engaged in fraud, obtaining money under false pretence to the tune of N650.8 million from about 35 customers.

Yemisi Opalola, Spokesperson of the Osun State Police Command, also stated: “The Osun State Police Command under the leadership of CP Mohammed Umar Abba, in its efforts to rid off criminal elements from the state, has arrested a serial fraudster one Adeniyi Sunday Talabi ‘m’ 47 years, a resident of Army Barracks Area, Kelebe, Iragbiji Road, Osogbo, a Manager in one of the First Bank PLC branches, in Osogbo, for an offence of fraud, Obtaining money under false pretence (OBT), Conversion and Stealing amounting to the sum of six hundred and fifty million eight hundred and fifty thousand naira only (N650,850,000) in an illegal product called PROOF of FUNDS, which involved a total number of thirty five (35) victims (people).”

The Osun State Police Command stated: “It is worthy to note that the said suspect has been suspended by the First Bank Nigeria Plc, his former employer.

“Investigation into the case has since commenced and the suspect and his accomplices would be charged to court upon completion of the investigation.”

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