How some Wema bank staff defrauded the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as well as their own bank, to the tune of N340 million, has been revealed.
The revelation was made at the Federal High Court, Ibadan, on Thursday in the resumed trial of some CBN staff and staff of some commercial banks in the infamous N8 billion mutilated currency scam.
The case is one of the seven filed against 12 accused persons in the currency scam. Three Wema Bank staff (Ademola Oni, Esther Afolabi and Ademola Ebenezer Adewale) and three CBN staff (Kolawole Babalola, Olaniran Muniru Adeola and Toogun Kayode Philip) are facing 20-count charge of conspiracy to defraud the banks in the said scam.
The first prosecution witness in the case, Mrs. Abosede Oyelakin, is the Team Leader, Inspection Department at the Southwest Regional Office of Wema Bank, in Ibadan.
She told the court that the accused persons, Oni and Afolabi, who were her collegues in the bank, allegedly replaced several packs of N1,000 mutilated currency with N10, N20, N50 and lower denominations to gain over N340 million. According to her, the fraudulent acts took place between 2010 and 2013.
The mutilated notes were actually meant for destruction. The CBN said that during a routine internal audit of the Bank’s Cash Destruction activities in September 2014, some anomalies were noticed at its Ibadan branch.
It was discovered that mutilated higher denomination notes originally meant for destruction were swapped with lower denomination currencies. The practice known as interleafing, basically labels a box with a higher value than its true content, the CBN said. The Wema bank staff members being tried were part of the scheme.
In Wema Bank’s case, the transactions were carried out with 173 boxes which were supposed to contain N1.7 billion but the cash fell short of over N340 million.
Mrs Oyelakin said about 95 per cent of the wraps of the currency were not signed whereas minimum of three signatures were supposed to have appeared on each of them.
She added that other bank records including the Vault Movement Register, were used to trace those involved in the alleged scam.
She explained that the bank did not discover the fraud because the CBN had already credited it.
“I also observed that, though the wrappers were those of Wema Bank, about 95 per cent of them were without signatures. Whereas what operates at Wema Bank is that tellers sign on the wrappers from the branches, stamp them and hand over to the Head of Tellers. Then, the head takes them to the vault after he or she initials them to confirm that they are correct.”
She said Cash Management Unit counts the cash again and sometimes sorts them into ‘spendable’ and ‘mutilated’.
Justice Joyce Abdulmalik adjourned cross-examination of witnesses to June 20. Ruling on the defence counsels’ bail applications for the accused was also adjourned to the same date.