Two-week Ultimatum for Bankers to Declare Assets

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Bank CEOs and their workers who live above their means will no longer be able to conduct business as normal.

They have two weeks to register their holdings under the Bank Employees, etc. (Declaration of Assets) Act 1986.

Today is the first day that the law will be put into action.

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If proven guilty by any Federal High Court, they face a 10-year prison sentence.

Aside from CEO asset declarations, anti-corruption organizations are to trace suspicious assets to bank employees’ parents, spouses, children, and associates.

Following the declaration, the CEOs must submit all forms to the proper authority or designated agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, within seven days (EFCC).

On March 16, the EFCC Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, instructed all bank employees to prepare for the declaration of their assets by the end of the month, citing the Declaration of Assets Act 1986.

He made the announcement during a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.

Bawa also stated that there would be no going back on the implementation of the 35-year-old law, which would commence on June 1.

The anti-corruption agency reported that there was uneasiness in the banking sector prior to compliance with the rule.

The penalty for violating the Act is outlined in Section 7(2), which mandates a 10-year prison sentence for violators.

According to the Act, it is an offense for a bank employee to have assets in excess of his genuine, known, and verifiable income and assets.

“Any employee who commits an offence under Subsection (1) of this section shall, upon conviction, be sentenced to 10 years in jail and shall, in addition, forfeit the excess assets or their monetary equivalent to the federal government.

“For the purpose of imposing a penalty on conviction under this section, due regard shall be had to the amount or value of assets by which the assets of the convicted employee are in excess of his legitimate, known and provable income and assets.”

On verification of assets, the law says the government can investigate bankers’ parents, spouse, children, associates and privies.

It says: “The appropriate authority shall cause to be verified every Declaration of Assets Form and Annual Assets Declaration Form submitted under this Act and may direct that a thorough investigation should be conducted into the assets and activities of the employee concerned including the assets and activities of his spouse, child, relative, parent, associate or privy.”

The law specifies how bank employees must report their holdings.

The Act further states that “employees must provide complete declaration of assets.”
Every employee of a bank must make a comprehensive disclosure of all his assets within fourteen days of the commencement of this Act.

“In the case of a new employee, he shall make a full disclosure of all his assets at the time of his assuming duty with the bank within fourteen days of his accepting duty; and for the purposes of this subsection, a transfer or secondment from one bank to another shall be treated as a new employment.

“The full disclosure of assets required under section 1 of this Act shall be made in the manner prescribed in the Declaration of Assets Form contained in Form A of the Schedule to this Act and shall be executed before and attested to by the Registrar of a High Court, the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court.

“The President or the appropriate authority may from time to time prescribe such other forms as may be necessary to achieve the purpose and intendment of this Act. 3.

“On completion and execution of the Declaration of Assets Form in the manner prescribed in section 2 (1) of this Act, the employee shall submit the form to the Chief Executive of his Bank within the time prescribed in section 1 of this Act.

“The Chief Executive of the Bank to whom Declaration of Assets forms have been submitted under subsection (1) of this section shall, within seven days after the expiration of the time stipulated in Section 1 of this Act, submit the forms to the appropriate authority together with the list of employees compiled in the manner prescribed in Form B of the Schedule to this Act.”

It adds: “The chief executive of every bank shall twice in every year, but not later than January7, or July7, as the case may be, submit to the appropriate authority a list of all employees who joined or left the employment of the bank in the immediately preceding six months expiring respectively on 31 December of the previous year and 30 June of that year respectively.

“The list referred to in Sub-section (1) of this Section shall be in the manner prescribed in the Biannual Returns of Employees Movements contained in Form D of the Schedule to this Act.”

In the latest edition of its in-house magazine, the EFCC ALERT, the anti-graft agency confirmed what it described as “trepidation” in the banking sector over the June 1 deadline.

“However, with the June 1 ‘deadline’ just around the horizon, there is apprehension in the banking sector amid uncertainties about the probable eventualities in the following months,” it stated.

The statement elicited varied reactions, with many challenging the EFCC’s authority to issue the warning, while others praised the move as long overdue.

“There is thought to be a sense of foreboding among individuals who have yet to clean up their assets record.

“The worry, though mainly unsaid, is about the implications of doubting the EFCC chair’s willingness to apply the full force of the law against erring lenders.

“This is premised on the recent history of the banking sector, where a couple of former chief executives came under EFCC’s radar in the aftermath of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s whistle on the indiscretion of some bank chiefs in 2008.

“Two of the former bank executives have been jailed while others are still in court, battling to extricate their necks from the intricate web of fraud charges filed against them by the anti-graft agency.

“What will happen post-June 1 remains a matter of conjecture. However, one thing is certain; the steely resolve of the EFCC chair to walk the talk.”

According to the report, the EFCC chief stated that there is no going back on the June 1 deadline.

Bawa was quoted in the internal diary as saying, “All we are saying is that come June 1, we are going to demand it” (assets declaration forms).

“We want to compare it to other information we have.
It is something that we have determined to undertake as an institution.
Of course, we anticipate fierce opposition, but we are unafraid.”

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