GENERATION OF FRAUD: ZENITH BANK’S EBENEZER ONYEAGWU RIPS OFF OVER N176 MILLION TAX BELONGING TO NASARAWA STATE FOR YEARS

Secret Reporters

From Jim Ovia down to his successive Group Managing Directors/CEOs, it has been a tale of either aiding state governments in carrying out fraudulent financial dealings or fleecing the resources of state governments through suppression of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), non-remittance of taxes, withholding dividends on income among others which are evident in Nasarawa State.

Residents of Nasarawa State might be oblivious of the fact that the untold economic hardship they have been subjected to can be attributed to the grand masterpiece of Mr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu and his predecessors in Zenith Bank Plc, as the bank may have allegedly fleeced the state’s Internally-Generated-Revenue (IGR) for years little wonder why it announced N4,739,825 Million in total assets, with shareholders’ equity of N616,353 Million as at 31st December 2016.

Findings by SecretReporters revealed that on seeing that only a paltry Internally-Revenue-Generation (IGR) was being raked into the State despite the number of banks operating in it, Alhaji Umaru Tanko Al-Makura upon his swearing-in in 2015 engaged the services of Ori Adeyemo and Co, a Forensic Accounting Consultancy firm based in Lagos through the Nasarawa State Board of Internal Revenue to assist in the improvement of Internally-Generated-Revenue (IGR) base of excess bank charges, high network individuals, withholding tax on dividends, interest and deposits against banks operating in the State from 1999 for an initial period of 4 years based on the firm’s proposal.

However, in 2017, impressed by the successes made so far, the Nasarawa State Government expanded the job scope to include Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) back-duty assessment and IGR suppression by banks operating in the State.

Surprisingly, after the arduous IGR assignments carried out by the auditing firm in collaboration with the state’s revenue board, it was established that Zenith Bank Plc which had swarmed around the Nasarawa State revenue pie for years defrauded the state of a whopping N176,271,038 (One Hundred and Seventy-Six Million Two Hundred and Seventy One Thousand Thirty-Eight Naira) in unremitted tax from 29th May 1999 to 31st October 2017.

A source revealed that “In the matter at hand, banks are not our taxpayers. The customers in the banks are our taxpayers. But they are the agents empowered by law to make deductions but they are withholding tax on dividends, withholding tax on fixed deposits and other relevant taxes”.

It is believed that the immediate past Group Managing Director/CEO of the bank Mr Peter Amangbo under whose leadership these frauds were carried out by the bank might just be showing that he was an ardent mentee of his mentor Jim Ovia who according to reports is an expert conman; while fears abound that the same traits have been transferred to Mr Ebenezer Onyeagwu who although recently appointed in June 2019 as the new Group Managing Director/CEO, is not unaware to the fraud carried out by the bank since he has been a Director during the period under review.

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