The Bank of Industry(BOI) is in the spotlight again, but this time over alleged underhand deals, fraud and abuse of power by the Managing Director, Rasheed Olaoluwa, and his inner-circle rather than the bank’s positive PR stories.
The development finance institution in recent time has been everywhere in the media for good reasons.
A buzz that has stirred up curiosity, findings revealed that BOI has invested heavily in having good publicity and its media expenses in recent times ran into a billion naira.
But this is not much of a surprise.
Circumstances leading to Olaoluwa’s emergence as the MD and his ignominious roles and that of his clique in the scheme to privatize the government agency during Jonathan administration, a move, the All Progressive Congress(APC), then an opposition party stood against, may have informed his desperation for hype and headlines to endear himself to the government of the day.
A former Executive Director with United Bank of Africa(UBA), and a crony of the bank’s former GMD, Tony Elumelu, Olaoluwa was appointed as BOI’s MD in May 2014 by ex-president Goodluck Jonathan, and was at the forefront of the plan to liquidate the finance institution by the former president.
Resisted by stakeholders, and APC, Jonathan’s failed reelection bid was a nail in the coffin of the liquidation plan. Among the reasons advanced by public opposition to the planned liquidation was that BOI’s assets would be undervalued and sold to cronies.
But the plan has reared its ugly head in the finance institution under Buhari Administration, albeit through the back door as its assets are being sold secretly, left, right and centre.
Its shares in WAMCO Nigeria PLC (maker of Peak Milk), Dangote Group, properties in Ikoyi and Victoria Island at Dejo Street and some in Abuja were allegedly sold under cover.
It was alleged that BOI did not invite tenders by advertising in two national newspapers as required to conceal the sale.
Sources told OrijoReporter that the beneficiaries of the assets are remotely linked to the MD, Rasheed Olaoluwa, and the finance institution appointed an external securities dealer, BGL Securities, at the expense of its subsidiary, Bank of Industry Investment and Trust Company(BOIITC), to sell its WAMCO shares, which was sold for N40bn.
The appointment of BGL Securities has the connotation of corruption. The appointment deprived the bank’s subsidiary of one percent commission, a whopping sum of N400m, an amount BGL Securities made. It also exposed the alleged corruption ravaging the bank.
BGL Group and its three subsidiary companies, BGL Private Equity Limited, I-skill Limited, and Immersion Marketing Strategies (IMS) Limited were in May suspended by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) following complaints by clients that they had been victims of corporate heist.
The Group Managing Director of BGL Group, Albert Okumagba, was also suspended from all activities in the capital market. Okumagba, who is the president and Chairman of Council of the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS), the professional umbrella body for stockbrokers in Nigeria, is currently under Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) investigation.
But these are the characters BOI under the management of Rasheed Olaoluwa is doing business with. It was said that members of the Executive Management Committee were usually not in the know of the assets sold until completion.
With Olaoluwa at the helm, first indication that fair play would allegedly be missing in BIO emerged when new staff were recruited, and over 90 percent of them are former UBA staff even till date. Most of them claimed they owed their previous employer millions of naira and BIO had to pay off the debts.
But the ex-UBA staff’s debt payment raised some suspicion following alleged insistence of the MD that the money must be paid into individuals’ accounts rather than that of UBA, which is the procedure.
Olaoluwa’s removal of the Head of Internal Control and Audit, an Assistant General Manager in January 2015 and his promotion of a manager to the office who has been acting since then, also gave rise to suspicion that the former UBA’s ED has an agenda.
Whatever the agenda is, one among the people alleged to have benefited mightily from the execution is the Executive Director, Small & Medium Enterprise directorate of BOI, Mr. Waheed Olagunju.
Allegations are rife that he is the owner of Andro Media, the company handling BOI’s publicity and advertisement in newspapers, and has raked in millions of naira through commissions.
However a staff in the bank’s corporate communication department who craved for anonymity denied allegation that Olagunju owns Andro Media. He said the outfit is owned by Rotimi Bisiriyu of NTA Sports of yore and late iconic broadcaster, Yinka Craig, adding that successive management retained the firm’s services because of its competence.
He opposed alleged lopsided employment by Olaoluwa, explaining that when the new MD came on board, there was high shortage of skilled staff and he had to poach other firms’ best employees and it was not only that of UBA.
He informed that all BIO’s assets sold were advertised for sale by tender and were sold to the highest bidders, dismissing suggestion that they were sold to Olaoluwa’s cronies.
He explained that the core competence of Bank of Industry(BIO) was not real estate, and the ongoing sale of its assets is to mobilize more funding for the development of entrepreneurship, and not that the managing director, Rasheed Olaoluwa is perpetrating fraud.