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Ecobank accused of fraudulent governance

The African bank is under investigation by the SEC following allegations of fraud by a suspended company executive

Pan-African lender Ecobank is currently under investigation following allegations by suspended executive Laurence do Rego – whose role entails risk management and finance – claiming that the bank’s board was not operating in the interests of shareholders.

The bank, which boasts a presence in 34 African nations, is alleged by Rego to have sold off non-core assets at “well below market value,” according to a letter seen by the FT. Rego also wrote that she was asked to improperly write off debts owned by chairman Kolapo Lawson and misstate the bank’s 2012 results in order to improve those of 2013, the time in which Thierry Tanoh became CEO.

In addition to these claims, Rego called into question the validity of Tanoh’s $1.14m bonus in 2012, which she states was $935,967 above the terms stipulated in his contract. The company’s CEO is yet to receive the bonus pending the results of the investigation.

Rego was suspended from work in August, following an investigation by the bank into the misstatement of her qualifications on joining the bank 11 years ago, allegations she has since denied.

Nonetheless, the claims have been taken seriously by the SEC, who confirmed in a company statement on September 3 that they’re in the process of investigating any pitfalls or missteps in Ecobank’s corporate governance. “We assure the investing public that the investigation will as usual be thorough and rigorous and will ensure adequate protection of the investors,” wrote the SEC in a press statement.

Ecobank claimed on September 2 that its 2012 consolidated financial statement aligns with the appropriate regulatory standards and is certified by PwC, adding that the report was published under IFRS guidelines, according to This Day Live.

The bank also wrote in an August 6 press statement, that “The Board concluded that there had been no financial impropriety and that Mr Lawson had acted in good faith throughout. As a result, the Board unanimously reaffirmed its confidence in Mr Lawson.”



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