Wema Bank Plc. the commercial bank jointly owned by the five Southwestern states through Odu’a investments is currently embroiled in a financial crisis that has prevented it from entertaining the idea of an Annual General Meeting in the last two years.
The bank is ranked lowest amongst the newly recapitalized banks in Nigeria due to sharp practices affecting its accounting procedures. The crisis in Wema Bank, according to our sources, is of the same proportion as that of Cadbury Plc whose management completely fooled investors and regulators over its profits and well-being while the Managing Director, Bunmi Oni smiled daily to the bank at the expense of Cadbury shareholders except that Wema Bank Plc has also not published any accounts since the year 2005. The recapitalization of the Bank was made possible because it is the major banker to President Obasanjo’s multi-billion dollar company-Obasanjo Holdings Limited based in Abeokuta in Ogun State. Wema Bank was named by the President alongside Zenith, and UBA when diminutive minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) El-Rufai publicly claimed that President Obasanjo borrowed N2 billion to revive his ailing Otta Farm which is now known as a money –spinner.
Wema Bank Plc is a publicly quoted company at the Nigeria stock exchange. The individual largely responsible for the current scam is none other than a current Deputy Director of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Tunde Lemo who use to be Wema Bank’s managing director before he was elevated by President Obasanjo as a reward for a N2 billion loan said to have been arranged for President obasanjo’s businesses without collateral security.
Saharareporters investigators learnt that the reason why the bank could not hold the Annual General Meeting was because of the non-approval of the account by the CBN and it was further gathered that the non-approval was as a result of huge bad debts in the books of the account of Wema Bank at the CBN, which the present management inherited from Mr. Tunde Lemo. From our investigations in Wema Bank, we learnt that Mr. Tunde Lemo, the present Deputy Governor, Financial Sector Surveillance gave out some credit facilities totaling over N16billion which are now very bad, of particular importance was the loan of N1.3billion granted to Yesin International Company Limited and –N7billion loans given to Suffolk Engineering & Construction Company Limited as well as Sirpi Alusteel Company Limited owned by Mr. Henry Macpple. Our investigations also revealed that these credits were granted in breach of the bank’s internal rules and majority of the loans might have been granted without collaterals, therefore making their recovery impossible. The loans were approved and disbursed three months before Mr. Tunde Lemo left for his new position at the CBN in 2004 and before they were presented to the Board of Directors of the bank for approval. The Board as at then was not properly constituted and there was no Chairman. The maximum loan the Bank could grant to an individual or company was N2.3billion but despite this, Mr. Tunde Lemo approved and disbursed the loan and further called a board meeting where he usurped the position of Chairman and approved the loans. Despite all the efforts the bank is making currently to recover these monies, Mr. Tunde Lemo deliberately ensured that these recovery efforts are thwarted.
Saharareporters learnt that the reason for his deliberate hostile attitude was the plans he had with Otunba Subomi Balogun to buy the bank. It was also gleaned from First City Monument Bank that there were several joint meetings between Otunba Subomi Balogun and Mr. Tunde Lemo to alter the examination report of the bank, send a copy to Odu’a, the core investor in Wema bank and paint the bank in a very bad light in order acquire the bank through the shares of Odu’a which is to be divested in a cheap manner.
Mr. Tunde Lemo and Otunba Subomi Balogun are both indigenes of Ogun state. The examination report dispatched to Odu’a in Ibadan was received on Friday, January 5, 2007 while Otunba Subomi Balogun’s letter to buy over the bank was also received on Friday, January 5, 2007 – a difference of 30minutes which betrays a conniving coincidence. We were told that there were cases of financial manipulations and falsification of records by Mr. Tunde Lemo when he was the Managing Director of Wema bank plc. A bank source saidof him: “He always purchase cheques and pay it into customer’s account to deceive the CBN and Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) that the payments were actually made by the customers”. Interestingly, we obtained copies of some cheques that he purchased with Wema Bank Plc money and are available at the E-Library. The names of the customers are equally stated as a result of these investigations. In a particular instance, Wema Bank under Tunde Lemo made N891million profit in year 2002/2003 but through the manipulation of financial records, the bank declared over N3billion in profit.
Saharareporters also found out those Mr. Tunde Lemo dealings at Wema Bank also involves one Chief Samuel Igbayilola Adegbite who was also a former Managing Director of Wema Bank Plc.who once claimed that Wema Securities & Finance Plc belongs to him and hence declared himself the “ life chairman” and when the Central Bank of Nigeria sent a team of inspectors to examine the books of Wema Securities & Finance Plc, financial malpractices in form of salaries, allowances, and reimbursable expenses were traced to Chief Adegbite and they ran into millions of naira. Even though as a part-time chairman, he was only entitled to quarterly sitting allowances, Entertainment and Director’s fees totaling N104,000 but he was collecting salaries and allowances both for himself, his drivers and security guards. Copies of cheques and payment schedules are also included in the E-Library. When the CBN asked Chief Adegbite to refund over N30million of monies he illegally collected, Mr. Tunde Lemo offered him forbearance and the money was never paid back to Wema Bank.
Of course, the big question is this: Why and how did Tunde Lemo become a super supervisor of the Central Bank of Nigeria with all these illegalities recorded against him while he was the MD of Wema Bank? The Otta Farms “revival loans” may yet provide the answers!