Over the past few weeks, Diamond bank has been enmeshed in various dramas and just when it seemed that the bank had risen from the storms and was on an upward trajectory, a new twist emerged when Mr. Bickersteth, one of the ex- directors that resigned from the bank made some allegations against the management of the bank.
Mr. Bickersteth is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN) and has served as Chief Executive Officer at KPMG Professional Services Limited.
There is a popular maxim that says “He who comes into equity must come with clean hands.” Mr. Bickersteth also served for a time on the board of ARM Holding company (Asset Resource Management) and it is rumoured that his exit was shrouded with allegations of improper conduct. What exactly took him off the board of ARM? A quick search of his profile online does not list his time at ARM under his biography. The CBN similarly appointed him to the board of 9mobile (formerly Etisalat) and till date we are yet to see how well that has fared so far.
The former minister of petroleum, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke likewise appointed Mr. Bickersteth to a special committee to oversee the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) during her tenure. The brazen allegations of corruption and mismanagement carried out under her watch has since been exposed and is currently the subject of international probes and is being investigated by the Courts even now.
His involvement with Diamond Bank started when he was appointed as an Independent Non-Executive Director in Diamond Bank on June 26, 2018 and resigned in October of the same year. He has denied his resignation, claiming that he did not resign but was forced out but investigations reveal this as a falsehood. There is evidence that he did resign and his letter was forwarded to the appropriate regulatory authorities. His denial of his resignation brings to question his motives.
Mr. Bickersteth’s actions after his resignation have been questionable to say the least. This leads one to wonder, is he acting out a sinister agenda hatched out by some people? He has tried to portray himself as a saint yet his actions run contrary to this image and depict that of a person on a mission to bring down an institution with a well-established name and history.
As a professional who has worked at executive level at a highly reputable Consulting firm, if there were issues with Diamond Bank should he not have approached the regulator and tabled his matters rather than sending or leaking letters to the press, engaging in interviews that have only served to sully the brand name of an organization he was chosen to serve?
He has embarked on a campaign of calumny against the bank alleging all sorts of allegations and claims against the management. In one of his attacks, he wrote a letter where he stated that “My overall and irrevocable interest remains ensuring the reversal of the declining fortunes of DIAMONDBANK, as well as ensuring that no party, however and wherever placed, threatens the survival of Diamond Bank”.
Curiously however, financial and market analysts maintain that before his recent attacks against the bank, Diamond bank shares were actually on the upswing and rose by 57% in five days after its announcement of CBN’s approval of its application to operate as a national bank in line with its “objective of streamlining its operations to focus resources on the significant opportunities in the Nigerian retail banking market, and economy as a whole.”
Barely had shareholders begun to heave a sigh of relief and analysts start to look through the positivity of this new development as reflected in the new Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) of Diamond bank with Financial experts lauding the move as an indication that its management is strengthening its domestic competition and boosting its earnings at the same time creating value for its shareholders, when another letter hit the media and public again.
Mr. Bickersteth’s actions seem in direct contradiction to what he claimed in his letter. HE claims to be acting in the interest of the bank and its shareholders yet his actions have directly led to a drop in share price which will adversely impact on the shareholders. Investigations have also revealed that before his resignation, Mr. Bickersteth was appointed to the Diamond Bank board on the recommendation of a majority shareholder in Diamond bank yet his actions are running contrary to the interest of the group. Sources even say that the CBN had questioned his independence on the board of Diamond bank. This begs the question, in whose interest is Mr. Bickersteth acting and why is he crying louder than the majority shareholders who have maintained a dignified silence in the face of his rants and accusations. In the past few months, the value of the shares of Diamond bank have dropped dramatically following all these board shenanigans.
So exactly whose side is he on? From a neutral standpoint, it appears that the Diamond bank brand is being dragged through the mud, in trying to “protect” the interest of the business, the staff and shareholders have watched helplessly as their beloved business is maligned in letters and statements leaked to the press. Is this the best way to go?
Is Mr. Bickersteth’s buttons being pushed by a group of people that are threatened by the rising potential of Diamond bank and are seeking to ruin its upward trajectory by any means or are his attacks based on a more personal reason? Why is Mr. Bickersteth the only one of the Directors that resigned the one making all the accusations and trying to tarnish the banks image? After all, there are three board directors who resigned at the same time that he did and these people have not in any way corroborated his misinformation and have distanced themselves from him and his actions.
These are some of the questions that these silent sufferers would want to ask the erstwhile chairman.