Fresh scam rocks CBN

•Suspects arrested trying to cash $251, 000
• Efforts on to recover $190, 200 earlier taken out

By Bliaze Udenze, Lagos and Isaac Anumihe, Abuja

A few days after the Cen­tral Bank of Nigeria (CBN) alerted the nation about a fraud plot, which led to the suspension of some key management officials, in­dications emerged at the weekend that those behind the scam actually made moves to cash a fresh $251, 000 (N500 million) after they succeeded in taking out N190, 200.
Subsequently, the apex bank’s staffers and their col­laborators in some banks have been arrested.
Daily Sun gathered that the bank officials were nabbed when they tried to cash the following amount of money from three banks: Unity Bank (N150 million); Keystone Bank (N150 mil­lion) and First Bank (N200 million).
It was gathered that the suspects had used the same corporate account of CBN governor, as in the first case, where the deputy governor was directed to remit the sums above to the benefi­ciary accounts in the affected banks. The deputy governor was said to have alerted CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, who advised him to play along.
Sources revealed that Emefiele and the deputy governor also got the three banks to play along with the suspects by sending out to them false alerts of pay­ment. Upon receiving the false alerts from the banks, crediting their accounts, the suspects were said to have proceeded to cash the money and were subsequently ap­prehended.
The suspects had earlier successfully taken out $190, 200 of the original $441, 200 involved in the scam. How­ever, CBN was able to block $251, 000, following which the bank raised the alarm. Efforts are on to recover monies already taken out.
The fate of the deputy governor and others, who have been suspended, re­mains uncertain. However, inside sources said the dep­uty governor blew the lid on the scam.
The fraud at the CBN is giving financial experts headache over cyber crime. Not long ago, hackers were able to breach US govern­ment websites. The most recent case of the hacking of the website of Sony Corpo­ration, experts say, shows the level of expertise involved in this game, hence the breach­ing of the corporate account of the CBN should not come as a surprise.
The CBN suspended one of the deputy governors, a deputy director in charge of payment, a deputy director, trade and exchange depart­ment, and another deputy director in the office of the governor last Thursday.
The CBN had alerted Ni­gerians that it had uncovered what it described as a highly sophisticated plot to defraud the bank by some people. The bank said in a state­ment by its Acting Director, Corporate Communications, Isaac Okoroafor, that, while preliminary investigations did not reveal any accom­plices within the bank, some personnel within the CBN have been placed on suspen­sion.
The nature of the fraud was not specified in the statement. It, however, said the need to place the officials on suspension was to allow for proper investigations by the rel­evant authorities.
The statement read: “A highly sophisticated plot to defraud the CBN by some criminally minded ele­ments has been uncovered and aborted by the bank.
“Although, preliminary investigations so far have not revealed any accom­plices within the CBN, the management has decided to place all key personnel involved in the transaction on suspension. This is to ensure a full and unfettered investigation. This inci­dence has been reported to the relevant authorities.”
Meanwhile, a financial expert, Chief Executive Officer of Cowry Assets Management Limited, Johnson Chukwu, com­mended the CBN for hav­ing what he described as a robust internal control sys­tem to intercept the fraud.

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