Ecobank Says It Dealt With Issues IMF Cited as Stability Risks

Ecobank Transnational Inc., which operates in more than 30 African countries, said it has dealt with governance and funding questions cited by the International Monetary Fund as threats to the continent’s financial stability.

“In the last six months, Ecobank has raised approximately $1 billion in combined equity and debt capital for its parent company and its business in Nigeria, the largest of the group’s affiliates,” Richard Uku, spokesman for the Lome, Togo-based bank, said in a Feb. 6 statement. “The information used by the IMF in regards to internal governance at the bank date back 18 months ago. Ecobank has explained that it dealt conclusively with those internal governance issues at the time.”

Ecobank has been embroiled in a battle with former Chief Executive Officer Thierry Tanoh since the end of 2013 after regulators investigated allegations of management fraud and poor corporate governance. Tanoh, who was forced to leave the bank, denied any wrongdoing.

Ecobank’s rapid expansion and risk management at its Nigerian unit were also cause for concern, the IMF said in a Feb. 4 report.

“IMF staff are aware that Ecobank has taken a number of important and appropriate steps to address these concerns to avoid risks to financial stability,” the IMF said in an e-mailed statement on Feb. 6. “The recent news that Ecobank has raised equity capital for the group and announced an equity capital increase to meet regulatory capital requirements in Nigeria are further welcome steps in the right direction.”

Courts in Ivory Coast and Togo have this year ordered that the lender pay Tanoh for defamation and wrongful termination. Ecobank is appealing the rulings and has also scheduled a board meeting on Feb. 12 to discuss its options.

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