Hadiza Bala Usman, Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) may have unwittingly disclosed that Heritage Bank may be facing liquidity challenges, as the bank had refused to release $21.3 million belonging to the agency. She made the disclosure while appearing before a House of Representatives Committee investigating compliance with the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy.
Why the bank has withheld the funds
According to the NPA MD, the bank had refused to release the funds because it would lead to stress on the bank. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had also being unable to get the bank to release the funds in question.
One case out of many
The action by Heritage bank may be just one out of several cases of banks withholding TSA funds. The Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation (OAGF) had recently hired Pricewaterhouse Coopers and EY to audit the TSA. The aim of the audit, was to confirm that the amount remitted by the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) was equal to the amount paid into the bank accounts.
The revelations by the NPA MD about the bank, seems to be the latest in a series of controversies surrounding the bank. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had recently paid visitsto the bank, over a pending issue related to its acquisition of Enterprise Bank.
Heritage Bank, has it roots in the defunct Societe Generale bank which was founded by Dr. Olusola Saraki, father of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki. Following its failure to meet the N25 capitalization requirements, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) withdrew its operating licence. The bank took the CBN to court, and after a prolonged battle the apex bank restored its operational licence. The bank rebranded as Heritage bank, and reopened for business in March 2013. In October 2014, Heritage bank won the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) bid for Enterprise bank.