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How EFCC ‘arrested, grilled’ ex-BOI boss, Kayode Pitan, over alleged multi-million dollar fraud


Operatives of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have reportedly arrested and grilled former Managing Director of Bank of Industry (BoI), Kayode Pitan.

It was gathered that Pitan, who resigned his position in October 2023, was picked by men of the anti-graft agency days before he bowed out of office.

It was gathered that EFCC received intelligence alleging mismanagement of public funds by the leadership of BOI, then led by Mr Pitan.

After days of discreet investigations, EFCC operatives moved against Mr Pitan on 16 October 2023. That day, he was allegedly arrested in Lagos and flown to Abuja, where he was interrogated and detained.

The banker reportedly remained in detention until 18 October, when the anti-graft agency granted him administrative bail.

The following day, 19 October, the presidency announced Mr Pitan was resigning and that he was being replaced by Mr Olasupo Olusi, a former World Bank economist and development finance expert.

Neither the government nor Mr Pitan disclosed that some transactions during the banker’s leadership at the 60-year-old real sector lender were being scrutinised by the EFCC and that, on that account, he had either offered to resign or compelled to do so. In the press statement announcing his resignation and appointment of a replacement, Mr Pitan was not accused of any wrongdoing.

But months after Mr Pitan was released on bail, no charges have been brought against him, and the EFCC has maintained a sealed lips on details of the financial matters for which he is being investigated.

According to a report by News24 Nigeria, when contacted,

Dele Oyewale, the head of media and publicity at the anti-corruption agency, promised to run a check and revert on the case status.

However, those familiar with the matter claimed that while in detention, Mr Pitan was questioned over BoI’s handling of a $750 million loan the bank got in 2018 from foreign banks to support small and medium-sized businesses across the country.

The loan was alleged to be arranged by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and sourced from a syndicate of 16 lenders, including Afreximbank itself, the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development, British Arab Commercial Bank Plc and four Nigerian banks based in the UK. The facility was granted at a single-digit interest rate for five to seven years.

The loan was arranged to enable the BoI to bridge the funding gap for MSMEs, estimated at N700 billion, Mr Pitan had told journalists during Afreximbank’s 25th Anniversary and annual general meeting in Abuja in 2018.

He also reportedly said the facility was meant for companies operating in the creative industry, manufacturing and gender-based businesses to help reduce the unemployment rate in the country and create wealth for small and medium-scale entrepreneurs. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) guaranteed the loan, which was disbursed to beneficiaries through commercial banks.

This publication learned that the EFCC is now scrutinising the handling and disbursement of the loan following allegations of sharp practices by some whistleblowers.

The informants, it was gathered , claimed that rather than promptly disburse the fund to beneficiaries, some BoI officials initially placed it in fixed deposit accounts and earned returns before passing it to the CBN on maturity.

It was also learnt that about 130 private accounts linked to the matter were being investigated. At the same time, Mr Pitan was also said to be questioned about the source of a certain N211 million traced to his Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) account.

When News24 Nigeria contacted Mr Pitan on the issue, the banker reportedly declined to provide details of his encounter with the EFCC and the issues that led to his arrest and detention. He, however, denied any wrongdoing in handling the $750 million loan.

“All foreign proceeds into BOI are transferred to CBN,” he said. “The proceeds of the $750 million were paid into CBN in full. CBN has repaid Afreximbank in full as the loan has expired.”

When asked to respond to concerns on the loan management under his watch, Mr Pitan said, “I want you to know I will never engage in the type of activities false information peddlers who don’t mean well for me and the bank are feeding you.”

In response to a question about a particular N211 million in his account, the top banker said he was “a senior member of staff and eligible to various facilities including mortgage loan etc.”

However, an official of the bank, who asked not to be named because he is not a spokesperson for the organisation, said that the $750 million loan was not mishandled in any way.

“What happened was that when Tinubu came, his people wanted to remove Pitan from office at all costs and put their own man there,” he said. “So they came up with that allegation and got the EFCC to harass Pitan out of office. The man was forced to resign which is unfortunate.”

But Mr Pitan said he was not forced to step down. “Mr Pitan resigned voluntarily from BOI,” he told this reporter. “His letter of resignation was accepted. The official communication from FGN confirmed that.”

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