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Trouble For Fidelity Bank Plc As Mega Frauds Become Order Of The Day

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***How depositors now watch and pray over their account

Fidelity Bank Plc is fast becoming the clown of the Nigerian banking industry.

This is as the bank continues to be trailed by one allegation of fraud after the other, despite assuring customers of the safety of their deposits.

Today, it is safe to say that the bank’s depositors sleep with a heavy heart, anticipating a report of one customer’s account that has been hacked, and praying that it is not theirs.

That most of the frauds carried out at the bank are inside jobs is most worrisome, as industry experts conclude that deposits’ funds are no longer safe at Fidelity Bank Plc.

Astonishing, and beyond expectations, staff of the bank randomly collude to steal millions and at times billions from the accounts of depositors.

One of the most popular cases remain that which saw four staff of the bank namely Omidiji Joseph, Olusegun Babasola, Abisola Ahmed, Uchechukwu Uma and Jude Aphaeus stealing a whooping N874 million by cloning more than 22 Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cards.

According to a statement by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), a prosecuting witness told the Lagos State Special Offences Court in Ikeja how some Fidelity Bank staff members allegedly stole N874 million from the bank’s customers in three days.

Peter Ige, an Information System Auditor with Fidelity Bank, who testified as the second prosecuting witness presented by the EFCC told judge Oluwatoyin Taiwo, how the four accused persons hacked the bank’s database to carry out the fraud.

According to the EFCC, the money that was stolen, a whooping N874 million belonged to five corporate customers namely American International Insurance Company Limited (AIICO); Interswitch; OVH Energy Marketing Ltd.; Fidelity Bank Sinking Fund Account and FSL Securities Ltd.

Ige told the court how his department was asked to investigate the “massive fraud”. He said,

“On July 15, 2019, as a System Auditor, my team was called upon to look at an instant of ATM fraud reported to the Internal Audit and to investigate same,” he said.

Further, he explained that his team reviewed the systems, the affected accounts as well as those who must have carried out the activities on the accounts.

“We observed that the accounts were linked to a set of ATM cards, with their daily withdrawal limits increased from N150,000 to about N150million.”

He added that the permitted frequency of withdrawal was also increased, saying, “This was very abnormal; and so, it aided the commission of the fraud.”

Furthermore, he also stated that the investigation focused on the members of staff who had authorised privilege and login details to view the accounts of customers and also increase such frequency and limits on withdrawals.

“Normally, there should be a request either from the customer or another department requesting the services.

“In this case, from our investigation conducted, there was no evidence provided by the defendants to go into these accounts.”

Interestingly, this narration is coming from Fidelity Bank Plc which prides itself of combating fraud to protect it’s depositors.

“With our recent certification ISO 27001 certification on Information Security, we are proud to inform you that we are truly committed to providing you with quality and secured services. This has helped us prevent information security lapses and mitigation of associated risks. Not only this, we just obtained the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCIDSS) certification, which is another vista in the bank’s resolve to protect Cardholders’ data security and privacy in line with International Standards.

“In Fidelity Bank, we think security always,” a bragging and screaming post on Fidelity Bank’s website reads. Unfortunately, the statement is simply word of mouth, as while the bank is being milked from outside, it is also suffering from internal fraud carried out by its own people.

If you think that fraud in Fidelity Bank is peculiar to junior staff of the bank, you will be shocked to hear that two former Managing Directors of the bank were also quizzed by the EFCC sometimes ago in relation to fraud cases.

Nnamdi Okonkwo, a former Managing Director of Fidelity Bank Plc, was arrested alongside one Charles Onyedibe by the EFCC.

Their arrest was in connection with $72.87 million linked to former petroleum minister Diezani Allison-Madueke.

A statement signed by EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, confirmed that the anti graft agency had uncovered additional $72.87 million linked to the former petroleum minister.

According to Uwujaren, the money was lodged in the coffers of Fidelity Bank, adding that Okonkwo’s arrest was part of ongoing investigations on the former minister.

Okonkwo, had earlier been grilled over $153 million and another a $115 million by the commission.

Also arrested for fraud by the INTERPOL is Frank Onumele, a one-time General Manager and Regional Head of Fidelity Bank, South Commercial, Rivers, Bayelsa.

Onumele was arrested in London for aiding fraud by becoming a conduit through which officials of the Niger Delta Development Company (NDDC), siphoned billions of Naira in Fidelity Bank.

Apart from not being able to secure its customers deposits, Fidelity Bank also encourage questionable deposits.

It will be recalled that the bank was indicted for fraud when it controversially received the sum of $115m from the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Allison- Madueke, during the 2015 electioneering campaign period.

Such are the mega frauds happening in Fidelity Bank, as countless other reports listed on the website of the EFCC continues to ravage the image of the bank, thus giving it’s customers sleepless nights.

Watch Out For An Exclusive On Top Fidelity Bank Management Staff (present and past) Indicted For Fraud 

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