Ecobank’s Tanoh to Forgo 2012 Bonus as Bank Reviews Governance

Ecobank Transnational Inc.’s Chief Executive Officer Thierry Tanoh will forgo a $1.14 million bonus for 2012 as the lender reviews corporate governance after allegations of fraud by a senior manager.

Executive Director of Risk and Finance Laurence do Rego will meet the board next week about fraud allegations she made to Nigeria’s Securities and Exchange Commission last month, Jeremy Reynolds, a spokesman for Lomo, Togo-based Ecobank, said by e-mail today. Do Rego said she had been pressured to write off debts owed by a business chaired by Ecobank Chairman Kolapo Lawson and manipulate the bank’s results for 2012.

The bank, which operates in more African countries than any other, will appoint external advisers to review governance, Reynolds said. While the bank doesn’t agree with Do Rego’s allegations, “she has the opportunity to elaborate and present her evidence to the board,” he said.

Do Rego isn’t attending work at Ecobank while the bank investigates a possible misstatement of her qualifications made when she joined 11 years ago, Reynolds said. Do Rego said she didn’t lie about her qualifications, the Financial Times reported on Aug. 29.

The new allegations against Ecobank come after Nigeria’s capital markets regulator met with the board last month. Chairman Lawson came to an agreement over his outstanding debts with the Asset Management Corp. of Nigeria, a government agency created to buy lenders’ bad loans. Ecobank’s board said there had been no financial impropriety by Lawson.

Obi Adindu, a spokesman for the Abuja, Nigeria-based SEC, declined to comment when contacted by phone today.

Founded in 1985, Ecobank has expanded into France and 34 African countries. It has representative offices in Beijing, Dubai, Johannesburg, London and Luanda, Angola. The bank’s assets were $21 billion at the end of June.

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