Nigeria’s Access Bank Latest Lender Targeted in Anti-Graft Drive

LAGOS, Nigeria, Capital Markets in Africa: Access Bank Plc, a Nigerian lender, said Group Managing Director Herbert Wigwe was taken and questioned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission at its offices about a client bank transaction last week, the third bank to be caught up in an investigation by the nation’s anti-graft agency.

Wigwe was released on May 6, the Lagos-based bank with offices in seven other countries, said in a statement posted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange on Tuesday. EFCC spokesman Wilson Uwujaren did not respond to calls or a text message seeking comment.

The questioning of Access Bank’s management comes two days after Sterling Bank Plc Chief Executive Officer Yemi Adeola and other senior managers were also pulled into an EFCC investigation, which led to the lender suspending new relationships with non-bank financial institutions. Meanwhile, Fidelity Bank Plcappointed Mohammed Balarabe as acting head on May 3 after the agency arrested Managing Director Nnamdi Okonkwo over alleged illegal dealings. All three have said they are cooperating with the EFCC.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari took office a year ago, running on an anti-corruption platform and encouraging anti-graft agencies to perform their duties in a country which ranks 136th out of 175 nations in Transparency International’s 2015 Corruption Perception Index.

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