Four Nigerian Banks That Changed Names After Corruption Allegations, Others

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Nigerian banks have changed names for several reasons, but the major factor have been due to corruption cases, that led the Central Bank of Nigeria to revoke their license, and offer a new owner, who go on to change the lender’s name to avoid the corruption stigma attached to the brand.

Other reason has been due to the companies inability to meet regulatory requirements for operation, but still, these firms are trailed by allegation of mismanagement of depositors funds.

Four Nigerian Banks That Changed Names After Corruption Allegations, Others

Skye Bank

Polaris Bank was initially known as Skye Bank before money laundering case was filed against its Chairman, Board of Directors, Tunde Ayeni, and Managing Director, Timothy Ajani Oguntayo, leading to a faceoff between the company and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

In a court filing by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFFC) in December 2018, and May 2019, Ayeni was accused to have transferred N4.75 billion and $5 million belonging to Skye Bank depositors. EFCC allegex that both Ayeni and Oguntayo conspired to launder the funds between 2014 and 2015.

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Skye Bank’s troubles also extended into the capital market, where the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) suspended Skye Bank’s shares in September 2018, before it was eventually delisted by the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE, now Nigerian Exchange Limited) in August 2019.

The suspension and eventual delisting accompanied the central bank’s decision to revoke Skye Bank’s operational license, and handed it to a new entity, being Polaris Bank. This resulted to the name changing from Skye Bank, but since it was delisted, Polaris Bank has stayed away from the capital market.

Oceanic Bank

While Oceanic Bank is no longer in public sight, the financial bank still lives on through Ecobank Transnational Incorporation, after it lost license to operate due to corruption charges brought against its Managing Director, Cecilia Ibru.

Ibru was accused of mismanagement of depositors funds, as well as negligence and granting of loan without due diligence or adherence to regulation on credit facilities. She was also ordered to return $1 billion, and sentenced to 18 months imprisonment.

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In 2011, Ecobank took over the license of Oceanic Bank, despite Ibru’s opposition to the acquisition of the company that was incorporated on March 26, 1990. This brought an end to Oceanic Bank, and resulted to the delisting of the financial institution from the stock market.

Bank PHB

The Central Bank of Nigeria revoked the license issued to Bank PHB to operate a financial institution in August 2011, handing it over to new owner, which led to the name change from PHB to Keystone Bank Limited. CBN took the action after the firm failed to show it has the financial capacity to recapitalise.

However, if you look closer, the same year, Bank PHB’s managing director, Francis Atuche, was accused of ₦25.7 billion fraud, alongside the financial institution’s chief financial officer at the time, Ugo Anyanwu, reflecting the firm’s inability to meet CBN’s recapitalisation requirement.

Atuche and Anyanwu were both sentenced to six and four years imprisonment respectively.

Societe Generale Bank

What you know as Heritage Bank today, was previously known as Societe Generale Bank. It was shutdown by CBN for failing to meet recapitalisation in 2006, resulting to the firm losing its license, but it won a long battle court case against the financial regulator to reclaim its license.

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However, it was eventually bought over by IEI Investments Ltd, and resumed operation in 2013 in the name of Heritage Bank, and as a regional lender, rather than its previous status of national creditor.

Amid the struggles with CBN, it was alleged that top directors, including the founder, Olusola Saraki, gave out N210 million unsecured loans to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). The Sarakis denied the allegation of mismanagement.

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