The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has asked the chief executive officer, Valentine Obi, and two executive directors, Sulivan Akala and Ike Eze of e-Tranzact an electronic payment platform, to resign, Businessday can reveal.
The move also saw the immediate termination of the appointment of the chief technology officer (CTO), Richard Omoniyi and chief operating officer, Kehinde Segun.
According to a source familiar with the matter, the management were asked to resign following allegations of N11 billion fraud perpetrated through its platform.
The CBN has appointed auditors from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and Ernst & Young to go through the books of e-Tranzact, sources told BusinessDay.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Lagos Zonal office, in April arrested Michael Osasogie Obasuyi, Managing Director, Platinum Multi-purpose Cooperative Society Limited, for alleged offenses bordering on conspiracy, cybercrime and money laundering to the tune of N 11.498 billion.
Obasuyi, who is also the Managing Director of Smartmicro Systems Limited, had written a petition in March 2018 to the Commission against e-tranzact.
However, in a twist, e-tranzact had also written a counter-petition against Smartmicro and Obasuyi, which led the Commission to begin investigations into the activities of Obasuyi.
Smartmicro was alleged to have approached e-tranzact in 2012 for the deployment of bulk purchase solution called “Corporatepay” to facilitate payment of salaries of Delta State employees in microfinance banks.
E-tranzact then allegedly configured an additional outbound fund transfer solution called “Fundgate” in 2017, which required Smartmicro to maintain a pre-funded settlement account with a first generation bank for settlement of account it had initiated.
However, the first generation bank, sometime in March 2018, revealed to e-tranzact that the settlement account was in debit to the tune N11, 498,944,038.29.
Sources say Obasuyi, in his statement to the Commission, confessed to having committed the crime, stating that he created fraudulent and imaginary monies through the aid of Fundgate financial application from the company.
The Commission, in the course of an investigation, has recovered a paper version of the programme called MicroSwitchServer1, which he allegedly used to create and post the imaginary monies.
He also admitted having diverted to his personal use the sum of N7, 519, 381, 202 out of the total sum of N11, 498,944,038.29.
“Part of the money has been recovered,” sources told BusinessDay.
The EFCC statement confirmed that the sums of N2, 903,737,563.92, $37,992.87 and €18,538.09 found in Obasuyi’s accounts in various banks in the country were recovered.
“However, several watchers are also thinking that CBN has not been fair to e-Tranzact because they were not the perpetrator of the fraud,” another source said.
E-Tranzact CEO, Valentine Obi told BusinessDay in a phone conversation that “There is nothing like that please.”
BusinessDay also reached out to Africa Capital Alliance (ACA), one of the major shareholders in e-Tranzact, for a statement on the development. An ACA representative said the firm was not in the best position to respond.
The Acting Director of Corporate Communications Department (CCD) at the CBN, Isaac Okorafor, said that he was unaware of the development when BusinessDay contacted him seeking a statement on the report.
Other FinTech sources tell BusinessDay that the CBN may have asked majority shareholders to take out the management of E-transact.
The sources added that discussions are currently ongoing on a golden parachute – a compensation package for top executives who are terminated – pay package to compensate the founder/CEO and other top executives asked to resign.