In a first such crackdown of its type, Mr Emefiele suspended the deputy governor, financial system surveillance, Joseph Nnanna, for responding to some spam emails without first cross-checking their authenticity. It is believed the four deputy directors include those in charge of payment, trade, exchange and the deputy director in the office of the governor, who heeded Mr Nnanna’s directive to make a payment.
All five were judged to be guilty of releasing funds to a group of scammers when the governor and several senior officials of the bank were on a flight to China last month. It is believed that $441,000 was initially lost to the scammers, although $251,000 was blocked and recovered, leaving a balance of $190,000, which had already been cashed by the fraudsters.
Two of the scammers were however caught in Dubai in the United Arab Emirate and are currently being questioned by investigators. From their modus operandi, the scammers apparently timed the execution of the fraud to take place when the CBN governor and other deputy governors were out of the country.
Mr Emefiele was said to have wielded the big stick by suspending the affected top officials because the CBN has laid-down procedures for the release of funds, none of which was followed in this particular case. Sources within the bank said following the incident, the governor had warned that henceforth any such infraction would be summarily dealt with.
Isaac Okoroafor, the CBN’s acting director of corporate communications, said: “Although preliminary investigations so far have not revealed any accomplices within the CBN, 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 relevant authorities. The CBN wishes to assure the general public that the security of the bank remains intact.”
Hackers have been on the prowl lately breaching accounts of banks around the world. Recently, hackers breached Bangladesh Bank’s systems and attempted to steal nearly $1bn from its account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, although a typo error by the hackers aborted their heist but they netted more than $80m before being uncovered.