NEXIM Bank refutes N50bn allegations against its MD

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Abba Bello, NEXIM Bank MD

By Anayo Ezugwu

THE Nigerian Export-Import Bank, NEXIM Bank, has dismissed allegations of corruption against Abba Bello, its managing director, on some sections of the media, mostly on the social media. It said the allegation of mismanagement of N50 billion Rediscounting and Refinancing Facility, RRF, provided by the federal government was an act of disservice to the bank and to the country at large.

The bank in a statement by its corporate communications department said the N50 billion, which was wrongly referred to as RRF was the Export Development Fund, EDF, released to the new management of the Bank by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN. It said the funds were meant to support export-oriented projects towards achieving the Zero Oil Plan of the federal government.

“We have noted recent incessant attacks on the Nigerian Export-Import Bank, NEXIM Bank, and its management in a section of the media, predominantly social media. Most recently, a report has been trending on the social media claiming that a petition has been forwarded to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, calling for a probe of the Managing Director/Chief Executive of NEXIM Bank, Abba Bello, over alleged corruption and mismanagement of the N50 billion Rediscounting and Refinancing Facility, RRF, provided by the Federal Government.

“The said petition was attributed to a faceless organisation identified as Citizens Committee for Corruption Free Nigeria, CCCN, whose address cannot be verified. Given that the identity of the so-called CCCN cannot be ascertained, the initial reaction of the Bank was not to respond to the malicious lies, amounting to an unpatriotic act of disservice to the Bank and to the country at large.

“However, since the perpetrators of the campaign of calumny appear to be relentless, the Bank has found it necessary to put the records straight and allay the concerns of our numerous stakeholders.

The current management of the Bank, led by Abba Bello, resumed office in April, 2017 to replace the erstwhile management, which was removed by President Muhammadu Buhari, over issues relating to gross incompetence, which had made the Bank almost insolvent, with huge non-performing loans, exacerbated by reckless abuse of process, insider related loans and lack of professionalism in loan administration, amongst other issues.

“The immediate focus of the Bello-led executive management, therefore, was to retool the Bank and return the institution to its pride of place. It is pertinent to note that three years after, the fortunes of the Bank has remarkably improved, with profits of N2.03bn achieved in 2019 and 1.09bn in 2018.  This was against a loss of N569 million in 2017 and a much bigger loss of N8.03bn in 2016,  which explains why the previous management could not produce an approved financial statement for three years, 2014 to 2016,” it said.

According to the bank, since the release of the fund in February 2018, a total of 62 projects had been supported with a total amount of N52.9 billion disbursed. It noted that the projects supported are reputable exporting companies with verifiable track records and many of them ranking highly on the list of Top 100 Exporters published quarterly by the CBN.

The bank said the loans granted are adequately secured, mostly with bank guarantees, and are all performing, with export proceeds received from 2019 to date amounting to $90.1 million and €80,000, translating to N34.8 billion, from projects that have so far repatriated their revenues. In addition, it noted that an estimated 8,062 jobs have been created and/or sustained as a result of the intervention.

“In light of the foregoing, it is clear that some unscrupulous people are not happy with the current progress of the Bank and would rather prefer the status quo before the appointment of the new management to continue. Moreover, such individuals may not be happy with the spirited efforts of the Bank to recover the huge amount of bad loans which were booked by the previous management, a large proportion of which were insider related.

Despite the malicious attacks, the current management of the Bank remains focused on the task of achieving its mandate of broadening Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings by funding credible export-oriented businesses in the non-oil sectors. We, therefore, advise the public to ignore any reporting to the contrary.”

– Jul. 16, 2020 @ 9:35 GMT |

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