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SLS Bank Reform Unravel … As Bank PHB Boss collects $120K off shore vacation allowance

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The on- going rescue mission initiated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to save the soul of some financial institutions in the country may hit the stone walls soon, if the apex bank fails to wade into allegations of official profligacy leveled against some of the presiding officers it appointed recently.

Information available to Daily Sun for instance, reveals that the Managing Director of Bank PHB Plc which only a few weeks ago reported a net loss of about N438.65 billion may have been engrossed in some activities that may undermine the bank's recovery process and leave it in deeper trouble at the end of the two year tenure given the interim managers.

A highly placed banking industry source told Daily Sun at the weekend that the Managing Director and Chief Executive of Bank PHB, Mr. Cyril Chukwuma, appointed last October to steady the drifting ship of the organization may have taken some questionable policies steps that could further jeopardize CBN's efforts to resuscitate the bank.

Among the numerous allegations leveled against him, was that he demanded and collected a whopping $120,000 as off-shore vacation allowance for the financial year ended December 31, 2009, even though he has spent only three months in office as chief executive of the ailing institution.

According to Daily Sun sources, the annual offshore vacation allowance in Bank PHB is meant for management staff who have spent a minimum of six months in the service of the organization, an indication that the new chief may not have qualified for it, having been in the employment of the bank for only three months.

The revelation comes on the heels of a report that he authorized the movement of about $3.13 million cash which was recently intercepted at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport by law enforcement agents.

Other faulty policies which some observers say may vitiate recovery effort at the bank if not checked include his unilateral change of the bank's policy on status cars for executives to monetization, and for which he was alleged to have been collecting a monthly allowance of N2 million in lieu of official cars.

Besides, Bank PHB's boss was alleged to have approved N60 million mortgage loan in favour of a yet- to be confirmed deputy general manager, who recently joined the services of the bank. It was revealed that the amount approved by Mr the deputy general manager's was about N21 million more than the official limit that staffers in Mbolu's category are officially entitled to.

It was further alleged that the new managing director had recently without board resolution, approved his appointment as a director of the bank's offshore subsidiary in a bid to exit two sitting directors of the bank.

The CBN had on October 1, 2009 sacked the management of Bank PHB Plc, after its special investigation confirmed the Mr Francis Atuche-led management gave out over N400 billion unsecured loans to friends and relations contrary to laid down credit approval procedures.

The CBN consequently drafted Mr Chukwuma, an accountant to run the bank as Chief Executive on October 1, 2009 with the mandate to recover the huge bad loans and return the bank to profitability. As at the end of October, 2009, the bank had only recovered about N2 billion an indication that the management still has so much on its hand.

But the bank's result published a few weeks ago revealed a whopping loan loss provision of N232.16 billion, while its stock of non- performing loans stood at N415.11billion.

Bank PHB's net loss for the period under review stood at N438.65 billion.

A senior manager of the bank whose reaction was sought to the allegation yesterday denied that the managing director or the presiding officers were engaged in an wrongdoing.

The manger who spoke on the condition of anonymity debunked allegations of official profligacy, assuring that the bank's new management was working hard to place the institution on a sound footing.

Although, the bank official would not respond in specific details, he dismissed the allegations as an attempt by detractors to discredit the new managing director and plunge Bank PHB further into disrepute.He urged the public to discountenance the allegations and be assured of Mr. Chukwuma and his team's commitment to resuscitating the bank. (The Sun)

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