Experts berate CBN’s refusal to publish seven-year accounts


The Central Bank of Nigeria, on Friday, released the Consolidated Financial Statements for the last seven years, making it the first time since 2015 that the apex bank will be making its book available for public scrutiny.

The Consolidated Financial Statements released by the CBN are for 2016 to 2022 financial periods, which analysts say is suspicious and require further probing.

Analysts have said the failure of the CBN to publish the report could send wrong signals to investors and others interested in understanding the state of the economy.

President Bola Tinubu had appointed Jim Obazee as a Special Investigator to probe the activities of the CBN and other related entities.

In a letter dated July 28, Tinubu said the appointment of Obazee, relying on the fundamental objective set forth in Section 15(5) of the Nigerian constitution, was in furtherance of his administration’s anti-corruption fight.

The appointment is with immediate effect, and Obazee is to report directly to the President.

According to the letter signed by the President, the full terms of Obazee’s engagement as a special investigator would be communicated to him in due course.

The President had directed Obazee to investigate the CBN and related entities using a suitably experienced, competent and capable team and to work with relevant security and anti-corruption agencies to deliver on the assignment.

Reacting, the Chief Executive Officer, Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise, Dr Muda Yusuf, said that in the past, the CBN was in breach of corporate governance principles and the CBN Act.

He called for more investigation of those involved in the governance system of the apex bank.

Yusuf said, “It is a major breach of corporate governance principles to have not disclosed the financial statement of the Central Bank for over so long. It is a breach of corporate governance principles, in addition to being a breach of the CBN Act itself. It is regrettable that this kind of thing could be allowed to happen in a country like Nigeria. That such a very strategic institution was allowed to keep away its financial statements. It was not as if their accounts were not ready but they were practically hiding it.

“It is very unfortunate, and it calls for even more interrogation of some critical people that were involved in the governance of that institution over so many years. It raises a lot of suspicions, which should draw the attention of the current investigator or forensic team looking at the book of the CBN.”

A professor of Economics and Public Policy at the University of Uyo, Prof Akpan Ekpo, noted that the investigation likely compelled the CBN to release its financial statements to the public.

“It could be because of the investigation because for a long time, we have not seen their financial However, he added that the investigation should be done quietly so as not to drive investors away.

He said, “I think the investigation of the CBN should be done quietly because it is sending wrong signals to potential investors and other stakeholders interested in Nigeria. We can do it quietly without making noise about it.”

According to the reports released, the consolidated and separate financial statements of the Central Bank of Nigeria (‘the Group’) for the year ended December 31, 2022 were prepared based on accounting policies which were derived from the IFRS Standards, the recommended practices in the guidelines issued by the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria titled ‘Accounting Guideline for Financial Reporting by Central Bank of Nigeria’ (‘the Guideline’) in February 2018, revised annually for reporting period up to December 31, 2022, the relevant provisions of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act No. 7, 2007 and the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria Act No. 6, 2011.

The CBN declared a profit after tax of N103.8bn in 2022 as a group, up from N75.13bn reported a year earlier.

Also, the CBN owed JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs a combined sum of $7.5bn as of the financial year ended December 2022.

Included as part of its liabilities was another $6.3bn owned in foreign currency forwards.

The apex bank, however, stated it owed Goldman Sachs $500m and JP Morgan $7b in what it classified as securities lending.

The 2022 financial statement read, “The Group entered into a securities lending agreement with Goldman Sachs and J. P. Morgan and as part of the agreement, the Group pledged its holdings on foreign securities in return for cash. The cash received from Goldman Sachs is N0.23tn ($500m), 2021: N0.22tn ($500m), and JP Morgan N3.23tn ($7bn), 2021: N3.05tn ($7bn) is recognised in other foreign securities.”

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