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FRAUD IN NIGERIA BANKING SYSTEM PROBLEM AND PROSPECTS

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CHAPTER ONE

1.1    BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

          The entire world has become increasingly aware of the destructive effect of a lack of accountability and transparency in both public and private life. This awareness is so pervasive throughout the world that governments, business organizations and non- governmental organizations alike are involved in crusades to promote accountability and transparency and prevent corrupt practices in all its ramifications. These crusades have gathered so much steam that international award for the “Most corrupt” and least corrupt country” in the world now exist. It is very unfortunate, and a national embarrassment that our father land which we hope to give to our children as a legacy has repeatedly won the former rather than the later price.

The fraudulence for which our nation was given a price is not located in the sky over our land; it is the aggregation and multiplication of little acts of fraudulence in our interactions with one another (Ezeogu 2007:10).

The dark days of  tyranny, military rule and social enslavement were  thought to be the period in which corruption festered in Nigeria and fraud became common place, but have you ever thought of the role some fraud stars played in the inability of some commercial banks to meet their obligations to its customers, owners, stake holder and the economy?

Has it ever occurred to you to search out how a sizable proportion of financial institutions had liabilities exceeding the market value of their asset, which may lead to ruins and other portfolio shifts and eventually, collapse of the financial system?

Society has long adopted to plunder the noble Nigerian identity and from military to civilian regimes, pubic office holders had followed strictly the unwritten constitution to live up to societal expectations. Values were waded off in exchange for graft and pecuniary benefits, millions were defrauded of their rights to good education, basic health, good roads and electricity, housing has become the preserve of the rich and professionals have lost chunk of their respectability.

The entire world has become increasingly aware of the destructive effect of a lack of accountability and transparency in both public and private life. This awareness is so pervasive throughout the world that governments, business organizations alike are involved in crusades to promote accountability and transparency and prevent corrupt practices in all its ramifications.

Fraud and errors are occurrences and like winds, they blow no good to any firm, industry, association, business organization and government. Instead they bring regrets, reduced patronage, losses, distress and failure to such business and organizations as mentioned above.

It is not also interesting to know that like the ‘canker worm’, they have eaten deep into the fabrics of the Nigerian financial institutions especially the banks.

It is not uncommon to day to hear of fraudulent acts like uninsured deposits, theft of identity, forged or fraudulent documents, wire fraud, cover of losses by rogue traders, demand draft fraud, and payment card fraud, cheque kitting, management fraud, Automated teller machine fraud etcetera in our banks.

Ojaide (2000:18) posits, “Frauds are acts of dishonesty, deceit, falsifications and manipulations perpetuated to gain undue monetary and non- monetary benefits”. He further states that accounting, fraud and fraudulent practices are illegal acts involving misappropriation of assets (cash, stocks, book debts, fixed assets) manipulation and falsification of accounting books and records etcetera. In his opinion, the get rich quick attitude of many Nigerians, greed, poverty and the falling standard of living are some of the reasons for the increase in the rate of fraud and fraudulent practices in Nigeria.

Although, frauds, errors and forgeries in banks are global phenomena, their growth Nigeria have been astounding. Bank frauds and errors in general inflict untold hardship on bank owners, staff, customers and their family members, as most bank failures are always associated with larger scale frauds.

Frauds and errors and their effects on banks in Nigeria today created room for doubt on the reliability of financial record and reports kept by management except perhaps on the very small scale business. The financial report user is not in a position to process and produce financial accounting information personally, nor has he the day to day knowledge of company affairs with which he can use as a base for his judgment.

Modern day banking in Nigeria can be traced to the period 1892 when the first commercial bank- African Banking corporation- was established. The bank was the first to open its branch in lagos. The founder was mess’s Elder Dempster and Co; a shipping firm based in Liverpool.

On account of difficulties experienced in the area of management, the bank decided   to transfer its interest to Elder Dempster and Co. in 1893. In response to the changes through management restructuring, the bank metamorphosed to form a new bank known as the British Bank of West Africa (BBWA) in 1894, with an initial capital of £10,000. Okoro S. A (2001:17) affirms that: “The Bank of British West Africa was the first surviving bank in Nigeria and registered in London a limited liability company in March 1894 with first Lagos branch being opened the same year.

Following the establishment of this Lagos Branch, other branches sprang up in other countries of West Africa like Ghana, free town to mention but a few. The BBWA later opened its second Nigerian branch in old calabar in 1900 that is, six years later. During this period of dynamism, there was complete absence of legislations governing the banking operations in Nigeria. This culminated in the banking distress experienced in the 1930s. At least about 21 banks failure were recorded between 1930 and 1952. In reaction to this ugly development that was ravaging the banking, the then colonial government set up a commission of enquiry under sir, patron to investigate the cause and proffer remedies/solutions. Consequent upon their report, the first banking legislation was passed in 1952. At this time foreign dominance of the industrial sector was intense even till after independence. This made the government to launch the indigenization policy in 1972 which conferred on the Nigerian Government 40% equity share in all companies registered in Nigeria. As a result of this enterprise promotion decree (i.e. indigenization decree), the federal government acquired huge equity share in the BBWA. Similarly following the decree demand, the BBWA changed its name to First Bank of Nigeria limited in 1973.

Oceanic Bank Plc is one Nigerians foremost financial services institution. The Bank was incorporated on March 26 1990 under the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 1990 of Nigeria as a private limited liability company and was granted a commercial banking license on April 10 1990. It commenced business on June 12, 1990.

Fourteen years later, on June 4 2004, oceanic Bank converted to a public liability company. Its shares were listed on the Nigeria’s stock exchange on June 25, 2004. Over the years, Oceanic Bank has built its success on excellent service, delivered in a friendly environment through professional staff, leveraging on world class technology.

Today oceanic Bank services customers spread across tiers of Government, corporate organizations small and medium enterprises and individuals. The Bank’s commitment to value creation for all its stakeholders has earned it a solid reputation as a responsible corporate citizen and employer of choice.

Recently (in 2010), the Central Bank of Nigeria rescued some nine banks referred to as “troubled banks” who had been hit by bank and security fraud to the tune of N620 billion ($ 4.1 billion).

Commercial banks occupy an indispensable position in the Nigerian Economy. They are the pivot upon which other business firms and activities revolve and a “circuit Pipe’’ through which all financial transaction pass. Given the current travails of banking sub- sector the need to plug all areas of wastages, more than ever before, becomes compelling.

No where is fraud more serious than in banking, it is the biggest single cause of bank failure (Nwankwo 1991: 162).

‘‘One of the best ways of combating fraud is to mount an aggressive enlightenment campaign on the dangers posed by fraud to the economy and the banking industry, in particular”.

This research work is therefore done/carried out to give an in-depth and unique evaluation of the current state of fraudulent practices in the commercial banks in Nigeria with special reference to First Bank plc and Oceanic Bank plc, Abakaliki Branch offices. Hence, in this project work, the researchers’ attempt is geared towards drawing reader’s attention to the menace in the industry with a view to assisting bankers/customers in tackling the dreaded monster in their day to day transactions.

 

1.2    STATEMENT OF PROBLEM

          The threat posed by the existence of fraud and errors are of great concern to shareholders, bank customers, the pubic and private investors,  creditors, government agencies and the entire citizenry.

The   inability of a bank to meet its obligations to its customers, owners, stalk holders and the economy occasioned by felt weakness in its operations which has rendered it either illiquid or insolvent have been ascribed by many to fraud.

Some argue that the rate of financial impropriety in the Nigerian financial system is so alarming and is evidenced or caused by poor, weak and inefficient accounting system. Others say that so many banks are inadequately computerized and that this has prevented the management from detecting fraud early enough.

More so, as the ultimate motive of most business are to maximize profit, but financial embezzlement, capital    flight, and other fraudulent practices result in low profit which in turn could lead to bank distresses.

Equally, non compliance to with the existing laws and legislations like Banks and Other Financial Institutions Decree(BOFID), money laundering(prohibition) Act, to mention but a few makes crime detection cumbersome for the Nigerian commercial Banks. It is on these aforementioned problems that this research study is built. The researcher will delve deeply into these matters to enable him establish a link between fraud and commercial bank performance in Nigeria.

 

1.3    OBJECTIVE OF STUDY

          The study will investigate and identify the root causes and the effects of fraud on banks operation with a focus on the oceanic Bank Plc and first Bank of Nigeria Plc Abakaliki Branches. The following objectives will guide this research.

  1. To identify the causes of fraud in the Nigerian banking system.
  2.  To examine the concept, ‘fraud’, bringing out its various types.
  1. To find out the reasons people indulge in fraudulent practices in Banks and other financial institutions.
  2. To determine the dangers or consequences of bank fraud.
  3. To identify the existing laws relating to banking and the legal process for prosecuting fraudsters in banks

 

1.4    RESEARCH QUESTIONS

          The following research questions, which the study will attempt to answer, have been asked:

What are the causes of fraud in our banks?

To what extent has the management been able to detect fraud and fraudsters?

Why do people indulge in bank fraud?

What are the dangers of fraudulent acts in banks?

Are there laws and legislation put in place by the government on bank fraud?

1.5    RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS

          In carrying out this research, the following hypotheses have been formulated.

HYPOTHESIS 1

Ho:     The desire to get rich quick does not account for persistent bank fraud.

H1:     the desire to get rich quick accounts for persistent bank fraud

HYPOTHESIS 2

Ho:     Anti-money laundering law is not the best strategy to combating fraud in the banking industry.

H1:     Anti-money laundering law is the best strategy to combating fraud in the banking industry.

HYPOTHESIS 3

Ho:     The internal control system in the Nigerian banks is not weak and in effective

H1:     The internal control system in the Nigerian banks is weak and in effective

 

1.6    SIGNIFICACNE OF THE STUDY

          Everyone needs information so as to be empowered. These include, the financial system participants, owners of banks and other institutions and the general public. At the completion of this research, which is carried out, as a partial fulfillment of the award of Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree in accountancy, the study is significant in the following ways and to the following persons as enumerated below.

It is to enable the student/researcher, bank customers and staff including management to have a thorough idea of fraud.

To empower private and public investors of commercial banks, other banks and the financial institution in general.

To help students and other researchers get information on their study for the award of various degrees.

To increase the volume of literature in the various library for library users.

To help the banks solve of their fraud related problem, if they will have time to read the recommendations made in this study.

To help the participants and operators- the Central Bank, commercial Banks, Securities  and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Stock Exchange etcetera access their performance and the efficiency of their banks and then develop polices that will benefit the generality of the  people.

To increase the reliance of the share holders on the best strategy of combating fraud, that would be recommended in this research.

To stare up research students into carrying out further research studies on areas not covered by the study.

1.7    SCOPE OF THE STUDY  

          The study concentrates on Banks as part of the financial institutions and more specifically, on banks within the Ebonyi state capital Abakaliki from the period of inception till date (2010/2011); the banks being first bank of Nigeria plc.

-Oceanic Bank plc

The choices were made, from a sample of fourteen Banks within the state capital. They are, First Bank of Nigeria Plc, standard Trust Bank Plc, Union Bank Plc, Hallmark Bank plc, Diamond Bank Plc, platinum Habib Bank, Plc, Guarantee Trust Bank plc, Zenith Bank plc, Afex Bank Plc, Guidance express bank plc, oceanic Bank plc, intercontinental Bank Plc, First inland Bank plc.

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