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‘It’s circulated to cause panic,’ Polaris Bank dismisses report on planned sale by CBN

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AMCON to sell off Polaris Bank in two years

The management of Polaris Bank on Friday dismissed a report that the bank was about to be sold to a private investor by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Report emerged during the week that the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, and the head of Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), Ahmed Kuru, had agreed to sell Polaris Bank to a farmer, Auwal Lawan Abdullahi, who is the son-in-law of former military dictator, Ibrahim Babangida.

CBN took over Skye Bank in 2016 after accusing the bank’s chairman, Tunde Ayeni, and the managing director, Timothy Oguntayo, of money laundering.

Skye Bank had failed to meet the CBN’s recapitalisation requirements in 2016, resulting in the revelation of money laundering and other financial-related crimes in the bank.

Both Ayeni and Oguntayo forfeited N15 billion in cash and properties as part of a settlement deal with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) which had filed charges of money laundering to the tune of N25.4 billion against the duo.

The apex bank transformed the lender into Polaris Bank two years

Since the takeover, Polaris Bank has not been sold back to the private sector with both CBN and AMCON reportedly spending N1.2 trillion to finance the bank’s operation.

In a statement on Friday, the management of Polaris Bank said while the plan was to eventually allow a private investor to take over the bank , it would not be sold without its approval.

Polaris Bank added that the report on the planned sale was circulated to cause panic.

READ ALSO: Polaris Bank releases new guidelines for forex applications, excludes some countries

The statement read: “Our attention has been drawn to an online report on the purported sale of Polaris Bank Limited. This publication is speculative, deliberately intended to create panic and should be disregarded by the banking public.

“Stakeholders may recall the regulatory intervention in the erstwhile Skye Bank by the CBN and the subsequent injection of capital via the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) through a bridge bank process, which birthed Polaris Bank in 2018. The bank has since stabilised its operations following the intervention; improving its balance sheet, customer base and profitability.

“Whilst the intention has always been to return the bank to private ownership, such a sale would occur following regulatory approvals with formal notification to all relevant stakeholders. The Bank is committed to ensuring timely communication to the public in such an event.

“The Board and Management hereby reassure its customers, staff and the general public that Polaris Bank remains a stable, strong and credible financial institution, positioned to deliver sustainable value to all its stakeholders.”

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