The Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), Milton Weeks, has announced that the Bank will conduct a forensic audit on former Board Members of the troubled First International Bank Liberia Limited (FIBank), now Groupe Nduom Bank (GN Bank).
Governor Weeks made the statement yesterday at his Ashumn Street office in Monrovia, when he officially announced the takeover of FIBank by GN Bank, a new bank licensed by the CBL, and owned by the Ghana Growth Fund Company (GGFC).
“The Board of Governors of the Central Bank of Liberia, pursuant to the authority vested in the Bank under section 40 (13) of the New Financial Institutions Act of 1999, has approved the purchase of significant portion of the assets and assumption of all the deposits of FIBank, except one large foreign depositor and one large creditor of FIBank by GN Bank Limited,” he said.
He said the audit of the Board Members is intended to check whether they were involved in the mismanagement of the bank (FIBank), and to set all the records straight for GN Bank. The CBL boss did not disclose exactly when the expected forensic audit would be done, but warned that CBL would go after those who will be found guilty in the mismanagement of the institution.
“If the forensic audit proves, for example, that some members of the former employees or Board of Governors of the former bank are involved, they will face the full weight of the law,” Governor Weeks vowed.
“We are warning all commercial banks in the country to follow the CBL requirements. We’ll be very tough in ensuring that these regulations are adhered to under the banking laws,” he added.
Governor Weeks also disclosed that GN Bank Limited has brought in a total of US$18.5 million, which the CBL says is adequate to meet the minimum capital requirement to operate a bank in the country.
The CBL, as the reorganization authority, acting through PwC (Price Waterhouse and Coopers) as its reorganization firm, will retain the remaining assets and liabilities for later disposition. Information concerning the loans and other assets of the former bank will be communicated to the concerned individuals and entities as soon as practicable, said the CBL boss.
According to Weeks, the CBL also agreed with the new shareholders to allow significant Liberian participation in the new ownership of the bank.
He, however, assured depositors, creditors and the public that the CBL has taken the necessary actions to ensure the continuous operation of the bank.
At the time of FIBank’s closure, Governor Weeks said the ex-bank had a total deposit of approximately US$23 million in about 42,000 accounts.
As per the dictates of the new banking arrangement, Governor Weeks said all the employees have now been absorbed by GN Bank Liberia Limited.
It may be recalled that in 2013 at least 15 persons at the bank were suspended and investigated in connection with a US$1.2 million fraud, but trusted sources hinted that some of the bank’s executives were linked to the rip-off.
In 2011 FIBank, whose books were audited by Voscon Inc. in Liberia, reported an Assets Base of US$6.5 million as at December 31, 2010, and Total Equity Capital of over US$7.6 million, and a Deposit Base of US$10 million.
GN is a Ghanaian-American holding company with several subsidiaries. It operates in banking, investment and private equity, insurance, pension, media, real estate and quarry concrete products. The holding company is also involved in education, sports, hospitality, technology among others. It is the largest retail bank in Ghana, with 207 branches throughout the country.