CBN may release new list of bank debtors

Abuja; The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) will in the next two or three days make public the list of those indebted to the three banks whose managing directors were removed at the weekend. Already, the CBN has scheduled a meeting with chieftains in the oil sector to appraise the level of banks’ exposure to the risks in the petroleum industry.

A source in the apex bank told The Guardian yesterday that the list of the said debtors, including the infractions of all the officials of the affected banks that were removed, was handed over to the chairmen of the three banks on Friday by the CBN.

The three banks in question are Equitorial Trust Bank Plc, Bank PHB Plc and Spring Bank Plc.

Owing to the criticism that trailed the CBN’s handling of the banking issues, including the sacking of the managing directors of five banks in August, this year, the apex bank, according to the source, has decided to change its strategy.

He said that the apex bank had discussed with the boards of the affected banks and had, at the weekend, given copies of the infractions, including the list of those debtors whose loans are non-performing, to the chairman of each of the three banks.

The essence, he said, is for the chairmen to go through the reports and get back to the apex bank within two or three days, after which “the CBN will make the list public as usual.”

When contacted, the CBN’s spokesman, Mohammed Abdulahi, told The Guardian that “all I can assure you is that all the things the CBN did in respect of the five banks it will also do in respect of these three banks.”

He added that the CBN will also assist the three banks in anyway it can to remain in business.

The source informed that immediately after the publication, the apex bank will forward the list of debtors to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to help in the funds recovery.

He added that if in the course of their investigation the EFCC finds anything incriminating against either the debtors or bank officials, they would be prosecuted.

The CBN, currently pushing for the speedy establishment of an Asset Management Company (AMC), which will manage toxic assets of banks currently enmeshed in financial quandary over their exposure to petroleum sector firms, will use the forum with oil companies’ chieftains tomorrow to determine how the affected oil firms will pay their debts.

It would be recalled that, according to the letter, at the 2nd Quarterly meeting of the Technical Committee of the Nigerian Export Supervision Scheme (NESS) of the CBN on September 24, 2009, members agreed that it was necessary to dialogue with the oil sector operators and the deposit money banks on the way forward.

In a related development, Prof. Peter Eigen, the chairman of Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), will be visiting Nigeria from October 8 to 9, 2009 to discuss the crisis in the sector and other key issues concerning the Nigerian EITI process in Abuja.

Also to be on the NEITI delegation are Mr. Eddie Rich, Deputy Head and Regional Director, EITI; Prof. Assisi Asobie, Chairman, NEITI and Malam Haruna Yunusa Sa’eed, Executive Secretary, NEITI.

Meanwhile, the apex bank at the weekend explained that the idea to fast-track the formation of an Asset Management Company (or AMC) that could potentially buy troubled assets from banks is aimed at improving the banking sector liquidity by removing problem loans from bank balance sheets while protecting bank earnings from further erosion.