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Fisayo Soyombo, a Nigerian investigative journalist, has accused Stanbic IBTC of reportedly hoarding higher denominations of high-value currencies from their customers.

Soyombo made this accusation on Twitter after he visited the Opebi and Allen Avenue branch of the bank.

In his narration, Soyombo said that the staff at some of the bank’s branches are illegally profiting from the backdoor foreign exchange by hoarding high-value currencies from customers. Soyombo added that he had suspected the practice for years but recently confirmed it.

“Every single time I’ve had to withdraw USD at your Allen Avenue branch, it always came with a caveat: “Please we only have small notes; hope you don’t mind.” Since these were usually small amounts (often payments for pieces for overseas newspapers), I never minded.

“Yesterday afternoon, though, I did.

“The Stanbic IBTC branch at Allen had claimed to have only $20 notes, all totaling no more than $600, which was inadequate for my need. 

They called the Opebi branch and came back to tell me that Opebi also had ONLY $20 notes but they had the sum I needed. After the hours of heavy traffic I surmounted to get to Allen, I didn’t want to go to Opebi; but I did, reluctantly.

There, the first question the teller asked was whether I’d previously gone to any branch. I deliberately answered no. Surprisingly, he told me that for the sum I needed to withdraw, they had 66.7% $20 notes and 33.3% $100 notes.

This wasn’t what Allen told me; Allen had said Opebi had ONLY $20 notes. I collected the cash but when it was turned down by my BDC man right inside the bank, I was left with no option but to return it to the bank, with serious protestations.

It was just before 4 pm but I insisted I wouldn’t leave the bank if I didn’t get the high-value $100 notes. A senior official subsequently intervened; he told me to wait a while for the bank to find a solution.

At about 4:30 pm, this male official, accompanied by another female official, called out to me. They claimed a customer had walked in to pay $100 notes amounting to EXACTLY the contentious 66.7%. This was a lie because no new customer walked in.

I was right in that banking hall and no new cash deposit in USD was made. In very simple terms, your staff hoarded the high-value notes so they could exchange them backdoor while stuffing uninfluential customers with the low-value ones.

Due to their greed, a simple 15-minute procedure cost me three hours across two branches! If this is happening at the low level of branches, I’m wondering what’s happening in Stanbic IBTC’s power offices.

This is the kind of corruption and irresponsibility we often associate with public office; how then is the private sector better? I hope Stanbic IBTC investigates these branches and puts an end to this shady practice.

Stanbic IBTC is yet to respond to the allegation.

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Musa Suleiman
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