The Reginald Ihejiahi led Fidelity Bank Plc, one of the few Nigerian Banks that survived the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) sledge hammer in 2009 has once again failed to live up to its name. A couple of weeks back, the bank was at the Abuja High Court with African Independent Television (AIT) over a N7 billion debt. Before the AIT issue, the bank has been enmeshed in crisis with it’s middle management
staff over imbalance in profit sharing where middle management and junior staffers were said to have been short changed.
Those middle management staff who protested to the management were consequently fired as a result of their protest. You would recall that about a fortnight ago, three staff of Fidelity Bank Plc were arrested by the Police in Lagos for alleged theft of N400, 000 from a customer’s cash deposit. Reliable source at State Criminal Investigative Department, Panti, Yaba, Lagos, said that the bankers collected about N3.5m from the said customer but ended up keeping part of the money for themselves. Also, in a related development, a manager of Fidelity Bank Plc, Gwagwalada, Abuja alongside two other bank managers were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on the 12th of May, 2012 before an Abuja High Court on a 3-count charge of fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, forgery of public sector accounts and obtaining by false pretence to the tune of N25.4m.
The accused persons said to have allegedly defrauded one Mrs. Juliet Uzor are Napoleon Obaje Adofu, Branch Manager Oceanic Bank (now Ecobank) Karu Augustine Odinawo, Branch Manager Fidelity Bank Gwagwalada, Patrick Onyekachi, staff of Equitorial Trust Bank(now Sterling Bank) Abuja, Reuben Omotayo, staff of FCDA and Abdulmalik Isa Teina, staff of Abuja Geographic Information Systems (AGIS). They were arraigned alongside two companies Yombor Ventures Limited and Aicoor Tao Nigeria Limited. We gathered that trouble actually began for the bankers when a N25,460.000.00 (Twenty five million four hundred and sixty thousand naira) bank draft payable to AGIS was handed to them, instead of paying the draft into the proper account, they conspired with their friends who are bankers to open a fake AGIS Corporate Account and paid the draft into it. After the draft cleared, the accused transferred the money electronically to the two company accounts from which they withdraw and shared the funds.
The latest case the bank is battling with at the moment is between an Abuja based business concern, Exclusive Stores and Fidelity Bank and it is before an Abuja High Court over major fraud involving a manager of the bank. Biznesswatch reliably gathered that Exclusive Stores has an account with Fidelity Bank in their Wuse, Abuja branch, North Central, Nigeria. The manager (name withheld) has been assigned to Exclusive Stores to collect sales revenue on behalf of the bank for deposit but instead of depositing the money in the client’s account, he was alleged to have pocketed over N100 million for his personal use.
The fraud was uncovered when management of Exclusive Stores wanted to reconcile their account, only to discover that over N100 million was missing. Exclusive Stores had almost closed their account with the bank for lack of trust and has taken the staff involved to an Abuja High Court. The bank it was gathered, has agreed to settle the issue amicably by balancing Exclusive Stores account and returning the Stolen N100 million.