Heritage Bank Faces Imminent Collapse: Urgent CBN Intervention Needed to Safeguard Customers’ Deposits

The once thriving Heritage Bank is now facing a perilous situation, teetering from a state of near-paralysis to an alarming state of complete shutdown, putting customers’ deposits at risk unless immediate action is taken by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to salvage the situation.

A comprehensive visit to multiple branches of the bank in key locations such as Lagos, Abuja, Ogun, Port Harcourt, Enugu, and Benin City paints a grim picture. The entire banking system and activities of Heritage Bank have come to a complete standstill, leaving customers uncertain about the safety of their funds.

As the situation worsens, urgent intervention from the CBN is imperative to prevent the potential loss of customers’ hard-earned deposits and to rescue Heritage Bank from the brink of collapse.

“Do you know that it’s so bad that they could not pay me a paltry sum of N50, 000 at the counter? I have been to branches on Victoria Island, Marina, Idumota, they said they don’t have cash to pay. I even asked my staff who live on the Mainland to check their branches on Allen Avenue and at Adeniyi Jones, it’s the same story of no cash. My business is crumbling because I couldn’t access my funds in the bank,” one of the customers lamented.

“Their ATM machines have been shut down for months. Is it not time for the CBN to take over the bank and give us our money?” a frustrated customer of the bank, identified as Dabiri Adekunle told our correspondent during a visit to the bank’s branch located at Plot 115, Adeola Odeku Street, Victoria Island Lagos.

Some of the affected customers have, however, taken their pains to the social media even as the CBN keeps mute over the situation.

Heritage Bank ran into troubled waters in 2016 when the anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) raised its hammer against the lender following a series of alleged fraud and money laundering cases.

For instance, in one of those major cases, a Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos had ordered the final forfeiture of the sums of N1,260,000,000, $327,132.35, £167.85 and €157.90 which were allegedly hidden in the bank. The order came following an ex parte application filed by the EFCC, against Heritage Bank and Secure Electronics Technology Limited.

The funds were discovered, following an intelligence report received by the commission, and investigations which revealed no owner to the funds. In an affidavit in support of the application, EFCC stated that Heritage Bank did not provide any legitimate explanation for the monies and “consequently returned the said money through 16 separate bank drafts issued in favour of the EFCC Recovered Funds Account.”

Just immediately after this, in 2019, the bank again found itself battling with corporate governance and operational stability/sustainability issues, prominent of which included, but not limited to the acquisition of Enterprise Bank – a transaction that turned out to be a major strategic error – and non-performing loans (NPLs) portfolio, which was at the time, amongst the most challenged in the industry.

At the acquisition of Enterprise Bank, Heritage bought some outstanding loans over. Some influential personalities who had secured loans from the defunct Enterprise Bank however refused to pay back the facilities.

These and other impending factors however placed the bank on a slow pace, making it navigate steadily while setting up approaches to surmount its many challenges and return to its old glory.

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