Home Kolapo steps down as Ecobank Chairman over corporate governance issues …Investigation still ongoing — SEC

Kolapo steps down as Ecobank Chairman over corporate governance issues …Investigation still ongoing — SEC

by Business News Report

Ecobank Transnational Incorporated has said its chairman, Mr. Kolapo Lawson, will step aside from the bank with immediate effect, while he is expected to retire from the Board of Directors by December 31, 2013.
This followed allegations of corporate governance issues relating to his failure to repay a N1.2 billion debt owed the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON and a N1.6 billion debt his firm — Agbara Estates owed, among other corporate governance breaches.
This is even as the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, said its investigation into the alleged corporate governance breaches in the bank is still ongoing, despite the stepping down of Lawson. SEC, in a statement, said, “In the face of persistent inquiries from domestic and foreign investors and stakeholders, we wish to state that the ongoing investigation of allegations of corporate governance breaches at ETI has not been concluded because of the announcement by ETI that Mr. Kolapo Lawson will be stepping down as Chairman of ETI. In line with its investor protection mandate therefore, SEC wishes to inform the investing public that the investigation being carried out by SEC complemented by KPMG Professional Services is progressing satisfactorily.”
Ecobank, in a statement signed by Nabi Ouedraogo, Head, Media Relations, Group Communications, ETI, said Lawson will hand over to André Siaka as interim Chairman with immediate effect
Speaking on behalf of the Board, Mr. Siaka, the newly appointed Interim Chairman said, “Kolapo Lawson has been a loyal servant of Ecobank for very many years and has played a major part in shaping the successful organisation we know today.
“His family is inseparable from Ecobank and Kolapo’s contribution to Ecobank is second to none: over twenty years, as a director of Ecobank Nigeria, of Ecobank Togo and of ETI, he has made a truly outstanding contribution to this great pan-African company. He has our very sincere thanks for all of his hard work and commitment, his leadership and his good company.”
Kolapo said his decision to step down from the Board is hinged on the need to allow for proper investigation of the issue and to ensure that the issue is resolved amicably.
He said, “The last few months have seen huge pressure on the organisation, and on me personally, in the media. These have culminated in allegations, which are untrue, made to the Nigerian Security and Exchange Commission, SEC, on issues of corporate governance. During this time, I led constructive discussions on the need for independent review of these allegations.
“The board has now taken the necessary decisions to appoint independent parties who, I am confident will investigate these allegations and review our corporate governance with the utmost professionalism. “In order to give total credibility to these reviews, I have decided it would not be appropriate for me to be the person leading this process. The Board has assured me of its commitment to seeing these investigations through and I will continue to monitor this as an interested party.
“I am very conscious of the uncertainty that current media speculation has cast over the institution. I therefore wish to take the necessary steps to bring this to an end.
“As the head of such a respected global institution, I must act when there is even the slightest perception that the interests of that institution might be at risk. I therefore step aside as Chairman of Ecobank Transnational.”
The Public Investment Corporation, the biggest shareholder in ETI, had in July, urged the bank to resolve a dispute involving businesses associated with Chairman Kolapo Lawson.
The PIC had noted that it has written a confidential letter to the Board of Directors, requesting the Board to quickly find time and space to discuss the matter and resolve it properly. Mr. Daniel Matjila, Chief Investment Officer, PIC, however, said the bank did not ask that the chairman be replaced