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Public Investment Corp. Asks for Ecobank CEO Tanoh to Resign

March 1 (Bloomberg) -- South Africa’s Public Investment Corp., the biggest shareholder in Togo’s Ecobank Transnational Inc., said it wants the immediate resignation of the lender’s chief executive officer, Thierry Tanoh.

Tanoh used “strange tactics” to stop Ecobank’s board meeting on Feb. 25 and continues to use the “Ecobank platform and shameless abuse of the judicial system of Togo to pursue what we believe to be his own political and personal interests,” Dan Matjila, the money manager’s Pretoria-based chief investment officer, said in a letter to Ecobank interim Chairman Andre Siaka. Matjila forwarded the letter to Bloomberg after a telephone interview today.

Nigeria’s Securities and Exchange Commission investigated Ecobank after former Director of Finance Laurence Do Rego told the regulator in August that Tanoh and former Chairman Kolapo Lawson planned to sell assets below market value. Both Tanoh and Lawson deny any wrongdoing. The PIC said on Feb. 25 that while it had reservations, it would vote in favor of the creation of an interim board that included Tanoh at Ecobank’s extraordinary general meeting on March 3.

Complaints Detailed

Tanoh has failed to focus on the business of the bank, has put the bank and board into disrepute, has allowed political interference, has divided the board, shareholders, staff and regulators, has misled directors, shareholders and regulators, and has failed to raise capital for the bank, said Matjila’s letter, which detailed 15 direct complaints about Tanoh.

Tanoh didn’t answer a call to his mobile phone or immediately reply to a text message or e-mailed request for comment; Ecobank spokesman Mwambu Wanendeya didn’t immediately respond to a phone call or e-mail outside normal business hours. Siaka didn’t immediately reply to an e-mail.

“We thought shareholders must know upfront what we’re up against -- they’re getting different stories from the CEO,” Matjila said in the phone interview. “Ecobank is a good operation, but if we don’t do something about the current situation, it could deteriorate into a catastrophe.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Renee Bonorchis in Johannesburg at rbonorchis@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dale Crofts at dcrofts@bloomberg.net

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