Sterling Bank Plc, has released information disproving claims made by the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) over the newly designed Naira notes and its Central Business District (CBD) Complex in Abuja.
In a signed statement by the lender’s chief operating officer, Raheem Owodeyi, Sterling Bank submitted that “This report is developed for the purpose of providing the true representation of events to the misleading narrative as expressed by the ICPC in a tweet late on Tuesday, 07 February 2023.” The statement proceeds to share details of a standard regulatory monitoring exercise conducted at the CBD Abuja branch of the bank.
According to the bank, a monitoring team visited the regional centre of Sterling in Abuja on 3 February 2023. During the inspection, the monitoring team observed that the bank’s Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) were dispensing all denominations of the newly designed banknotes and also allowed customers to withdraw cash Over-The-Counter (OTC) in accordance with stipulated pronouncements.
Owodeyi stated that officials of the bank informed the monitoring team and officials of the ICPC of the presence of the sum of N258 million in the vault – since the branch serves as a hub for the distribution of cash to other branches in the region. The branches serviced by the CBD branch include Utako, Wuye, Seda Close, Kotangora, and National Assembly offices. This, along with additional information on the branch’s function, was captured in the statement with a mention of the monitoring team’s visit to other branches to confirm reports reviewed and detailing the disbursement of cash.
The bank further disclosed that “Upon their visits to the Utako and Wuye branches, the monitoring team reviewed the records submitted for the movement of cash from the CBD branch to other branches served within the region. It is important to state that cash was being paid OTC at the branches, and the ATM terminals were dispensing the newly designed denominations during the monitoring exercise.”
The bank also clarified that to the bank’s knowledge, all responses provided were satisfactory, as no further queries were raised and the monitoring team promptly left the premises upon concluding the inspection. Approximately one hour later, officials of the ICPC accompanied by the monitoring team, returned and invited two of the branch’s staff for further questioning at the ICPC headquarters in Abuja; the two bank representatives returned to their offices on the same day with no charges levelled against them.
“Members of the regulatory monitoring team were informed of the sums contained in the branch’s vault prior to the inspection. These sums were confirmed with a review of the records as presented by representatives of the Bank. The assertion of a “discovery”, as presented in the narrative, is inaccurate and misleading. It must be noted that no cash was “stashed” in the vault of the regional office, and for emphasis, Sterling Bank has complied with all the guidelines on the distribution of redesigned notes from inception to date.
In the midst of the ongoing difficulties associated with the distribution of the newly designed currency policy, Sterling Bank has been praised for a number of initiatives, as evidenced by videos from the previous week, when the bank’s branches distributed bottles of water to customers patiently waiting to withdraw cash. The following week, other banks decided to follow suit after observing the move.