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Ecobank chairman to stand down after governance allegations

30 October 2013, 09:33

Lagos - Pan-African lender Ecobank (ETI) said on Wednesday its chairman Kolapo Lawson will stand down with immediate effect, in a bid to restore confidence in a bank rocked by governance issues.

Ecobank has seen its image take a hit from allegations by suspended head of finance Laurence do Rego that she was asked to misstate 2012 results and that assets were being unnecessarily sold at a loss.

The security and exchange commission is investigating the allegations, which Ecobank denies, although its chief executive has said transparency could be improved.

The African lender first came into the spotlight in April when Nigeria's central bank notified it of Lawson's failure to repay 1.4 billion naira in debts sold to AMCON, the state-owned "bad bank", and a further 1.6 billion naira owed to Ecobank by businesses associated with him.

Ecobank has since said Lawson has repaid the debts owed to it and no company rules were broken.
AMCON declined to comment on the basis of confidentiality.

Banking analysts have highlighted that these loans only account for 0.1 percent of ETI's total loan book. ETI shares are up 22 percent so far this year and closed at 13.80 on Tuesday. The markets open at 09h30 GMT.

Lawson said on Wednesday that independent parties would investigate allegations and review corporate governance.

"I decided that it wasn't appropriate for me to preside over the (review) process so I thought it was best to step aside. It's something I've been thinking about for a long time," Lawson told Reuters by telephone.

- Reuters


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