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Sterling Bank Speaks On Hoarding N258m New Naira Notes 

Sterling Bank PLC has reacted to the allegation that it was hoarding N258 million new Naira notes in its regional office in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, ICPC, had on Tuesday accused the bank of hoarding the new Naira Notes.

In its reaction to the allegation, Sterling Bank, which did not deny the attack on the monitoring team in the statement, offered explanations on why it had the N258 million new notes in its vault.

The statement reads in full:

This report is developed for the purpose of providing the true representation of events to the narrative as expressed by the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) in a tweet late on Tuesday, February 7, 2023.

Background

A regulatory monitoring team visited our Abuja Central Business District (CBD)Complex on February 3, 2023.

The monitoring team, in the company of the branch service manager and other staff, inspected and observed the following꞉

a. The branch’s ATMs were dispensing all denominations of the newly designed notes.

b. The branch was in full compliance with the regulator’s recommendations onOver ‑ The‑Counter (OTC) disbursements.

During the inspection, the monitoring team made inquiries about the details of the cash observed in the vaults. To which the team responded with details of the branch’sATM and OTC cash disbursement processes.

To our knowledge, all responses provided were satisfactory as no further queries were raised.

The monitoring team promptly left the premises upon concluding the inspection.

Approximately one hour later, officials of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), accompanied by the monitoring team, returned to the branch and removed two of the branch’s staff for further questioning at theICPC headquarters in Abuja.

The Sterling staff were held at the ICPC office and were later released without any charges levied against them by the close of the business day on February 3, 2023.

About the visit to Sterling Bank, CBD, Abuja

The Sterling branch at the Central Business District, Abuja, is a regional headquarters and serves as a hub for 5 Sterling branches and 15 ATM terminals within the region.

During the visit, members of the monitoring team inspected the vault of the branch and observed the sum of N258,000,000 in N1000, N500 and N200 denominations.

The distribution records from the CBD branch to other locations served within the region were presented for the evaluation of the monitoring team.

The monitoring team proceeded to visit two branches in Utako and Wuye as both locations receive their cash disbursements from the regional headquarters ofSterling in CBD.

Upon their visits to the Utako and Wuye branches, the monitoring team reviewed the records submitted for the movement of cash from the CBD branch to other branches served within the region. It is important to state that cash was being paid over the counter at both branches, and the ATM terminals were dispensing the newly designed denominations during the monitoring exercise.

Matters Arising

Sterling deems it necessary to point out the following꞉

Members of the regulatory monitoring team were informed of the sums contained inthe branch’s vault prior to the inspection. These sums were confirmed with a view of the records as presented by representatives of the Bank.

The assertion of a “discovery”, as presented in the narrative, is inaccurate and grossly misleading.

All cash observed in the vault of the CBD branch was earmarked for distribution to other branches in the region for disbursement to customers of the bank and the public.

The sum of N5,000,000 each as contained in the monitoring team’s report, represents the cash moved to augment the vault balances of the Utako, Wuye, Seda Close and Kotangora branches (in line with the bank’s daily routine of cash management) and also for disbursement to the public via their ATM terminals.

All balances in our vaults are reported daily to the Central Bank of Nigeria and form the basis for the allocation of new notes in an efficient manner; it is therefore, untrue that such monies are ‘stashed’ or ‘hoarded.’

Sterling’s Distribution of New Notes

From the commencement of the distribution of the re‑designed denominations, the CBD branch has received the total sum of N1,543,000,000 from the apex bank and paid to customers as summarized below꞉

The sum of N892,700,000 paid out in about 104,821 transactions across 15ATM terminals between January 6 to February 6, 2023.

The sum of N78,600,000 paid out in approximately 3,892 over‑the‑counter transactions across all 6 branches in the Abuja region between February 2, 2023 to February 6, 2023.

This was commenced upon receipt of the directive from the regulator to disburse thenew notes over the counter ‑ subject to a limit of N20,000 per transaction.

The sum of N1,000,000,000 in a combination of old and new notes, was disbursed to customers over the counter in about 2,124 transactions betweenDecember 15, 2022 and January 5, 2023.

The current balances across the 6 branches in Abuja as at the close of business onFebruary 7, 2023 stood at N178,670,000.

The average vault balances currently held in the six locations is N30m per branch; well below our historical vault balances.

Conclusions

The representatives of the bank duly informed the regulatory monitoring team and officials of the ICPC of the sums in the vault, stating the purpose as intended for distribution to other branches.

It must be noted that no cash was “stashed” in the vault of the regional office.

For emphasis, we wish to state that Sterling Bank has complied with all the guidelines on the distribution of redesigned notes from inception to date.

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