Nigerian central bankers in custody on fraud charges

CBN Headquarters, Abuja

CBN Headquarters, Abuja

Three senior officials from Nigeria’s central bank and two others from a commercial bank have been remanded in custody after appearing in court charged with currency fraud.

The five were charged with “defrauding the apex bank and two other banks”, Wilson Uwujaren, spokesman for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), said in a statement late Tuesday.

The defendants pleaded not guilty to an 11-count indictment, which included conspiracy, fraud and theft, at the court in Ibadan, southwest Nigeria.

Judge Ayo Emmanuel adjourned the case until June 9 for a bail application.

The five are among 22 bankers who were arrested across the country after failing to carry out instructions to destroy old banknotes totalling billions of naira, Uwujaren said on Monday.

The Central Bank of Nigeria, which handed over the suspects for prosecution, said “anomalies” came to light during a routine internal audit at its branch in Ibadan in September 2014.

“It was discovered that a systematic scheme, which has been on for several years, was being run in which mutilated higher denomination notes originally meant for destruction were swapped with lower denomination currencies,” it said in an emailed statement.

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