Standard Bank appoints acting CEO in Mozambique after US$4.6m fine

MOZAMBIQUEStandard Bank has appointed an unnamed acting Chief Executive Officer to replace the outgoing country MD, Adimohanma Chukwuma Nwokocha, who was fined roughly R1.5 million (US$103,405) by the Bank of Mozambique for fraudulent activities, following an on-site inspection by the bank.

Also fined was Domingos Francisco Madeira, director of corporate and investment banking “for serious infringements of prudential and exchange rate nature,” according to a statement by the Bank of Mozambique. Madeira was fined the equivalent of R3.3 million (US$227,492).

Standard Bank was fined the equivalent of R66.18 million (US$4.6 million) and suspended from currency exchange activities for a year. Both senior bank officials are debarred from management functions in the financial sector for six years.

The fines were imposed on the bank and its two senior officials for manipulating exchange rates, setting up an illegal payments system outside the country and carrying out irregular financial derivatives operations to hedge exchange rate risks, among others.

The statement says Standard Bank is cooperating with the Bank of Mozambique to remedy the irregularities.

A few days ago, Club of Mozambique reported that Standard Bank customers with foreign currency accounts suddenly found themselves unable to access their salaries following the decision by the Bank of Mozambique to suspend all activities involving the conversion of foreign currency in the foreign exchange markets.

Standard Bank issued a statement saying: “In keeping our customers, partners and the general public informed, Standard Bank Mozambique would like to advise that we will continue to engage with Banco de Mozambique for clarification on the foreign exchange allegations. Besides the affected areas, we wish to assure our customers that the daily operations of the bank will not be affected.  As part of Standard Bank’s business continuity processes, an acting chief executive has been appointed to lead our executive management team.

Standard Bank Mozambique is committed to doing business ethically and responsibly. In addition, our governance and compliance processes remain rigorous as we regard our reputation as our most valuable asset.”

Bank of Mozambique says the one-year ban on forex-related activities could be lifted early based on progress made in remedying the irregularities.

“Such measures include, by the (Standard Bank) shareholders, the presentation and implementation of a credible action plan of remediation of irregularities and, by the Bank of Mozambique, the placement of a resident inspector which will ensure continuous monitoring of the action plan.”

Bank of Mozambique alleged that the bank and the two employees were involved in fraudulent manipulation of the exchange rate, implementing an illegal payments network based outside the country, and carrying out irregular operations of financial derivatives, among other offenses.

Standard Bank is one of the top three banks in the country.

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