First Bank moves to recover N40 billion stolen by employee

First Bank of Nigeria has initiated legal proceedings to recover substantial sums of money allegedly embezzled by an employee.

The bank, which boasts a market capitalization of ₦829 billion, reported the incident to the Nigerian Police Force on March 25, 2024, and subsequently obtained multiple court orders to freeze accounts linked to the stolen funds.

According to Tech Cabal, the employee at the centre of the scandal, Tijani Muiz Adeyinka, was a manager on the electronic products team at First Bank’s head office in Iganmu, Lagos.

Adeyinka, now a fugitive, allegedly diverted around ₦40 billion (approximately $29 million) over two years. He reportedly used his position to misappropriate funds by processing customer reversal requests to a merchant account under his control.

The scheme went undetected due to his authority to finalize transactions without additional approvals.

The fraud came to light when a customer complaint led to an internal review by the bank’s control unit, which uncovered numerous suspicious transactions.

The discovery prompted First Bank to alert the police and pursue legal measures to mitigate the financial damage.

Meanwhile, First Bank has been proactive in its response, securing three court orders between April 4 and April 8, 2024, to freeze hundreds of accounts suspected of receiving the diverted funds.

The affected accounts include 98 classified as first beneficiaries, one of which belongs to Adeyinka’s wife, and numerous second-tier accounts.

Court documents reveal that Adeyinka’s fraudulent activities involved transferring funds to his wife’s account at Zenith Bank, which subsequently dispersed the money across 34 additional accounts.

The accounts further funnelled the funds to 1,190 other accounts, creating a complex web of transactions designed to obfuscate the origin of the stolen money.

“We are working closely with law enforcement agencies to unravel the circumstances surrounding this fraud and apprehend all culprits involved,” a statement from the bank to the Lagos State Commissioner of Police dated May 10, 2024 read.

The article was originally published on Politics Nigeria.

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