The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has recovered 200 houses in the United Arab Emirates, United States and South Africa belonging to the chief executive officers of the failed commercial banks in Nigeria.
Making the disclosure Wednesday at an interactive session with members of the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, CBN Governor, Malam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, said the houses were recovered when operatives took offshore its searchlight for the assets of the deposed bank chiefs.
Although, he did not give further details regarding the recoveries, Sanusi, in an apparent reaction to the criticisms of shareholders against the intervention of the apex bank in the former banks, queried: “Where were the shareholders when over N300 billion of depositors’ funds were being stolen? These are the shareholders that we are talking about, where were they?”
Giving further impetus to the apex bank’s role in nationalising the three banks in September, said his primary responsibility was to defend the interest of depositors and not shareholders.
He said: “It is my job to protect depositors. If you go and buy shares, you are taking a risk. The banks paid dividends, you took the dividends. Share prices went up; you sold and tripled your money. Those that sold made money. Those that didn’t sell lost. It is a risk you took.
“The depositor did not go to lose money. We told them don’t put your money in the pillow, go and put it in the bank. Whoever puts his money in the bank expects to get that money on demand. My obligation is to make sure that every depositor gets his money. I have no obligation to the shareholders. It is not my job.
“I am serving depositors. Shareholders are not happy with me. I understand that and I accept it. I am happy that they are not happy because that means that I am doing my work.”
Sanusi said when he set the September 30 deadline for banks to recapitalise; many critics said it was not possible, adding, however, that he insisted because of his realisation that “in many cases, this would have been concluded earlier”.
He accused the shareholders of the liquidated banks of “playing games”, saying: “You are a shareholder; you appoint a board and management; your management throws away bank assets, giving bad loans and losing the money. We (CBN) seized the bank; we find your partner by going to court to take all sorts of injunctions.”
The CBN boss, however, said that now that the banks had been rescued “some shareholders are talking about their rights, not about the right of the depositors”.
He told the senators that his business as the boss of the apex bank was not to protect shareholders who lost millions of naira in investment in the failed banks.
Also at the interactive session with the lawmakers, Sanusi appealed to the Senate to back the proposed bill seeking the injection of additional N500 billion to the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).
He said the intention of the proposed funds to AMCON was to empower the corporation to be in a position to adequately recapitalise any ailing bank to restore confidence in the banking sector.