By Balkis Tijani.
The Ilorin Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arrested the Director-General of Kwara State Bureau of Small and Medium Enterprise Development, Mr Segun Soewu, and six Bank MDs over alleged N2billion SME fraud.
The affected managing directors include: Ogudu Samuel of Brightway Micro Finance; A.K. Imam of Magajingari of Micro Finance; Adeleke M.S. of Sincere Micro Finance Bank; Yusuf Muideen of Balogun Fulani Micro Finance Bank; Issa Abdulrasheed of KCMB Micro Finance Bank, and Oyebode Asimiyu of Apels Micro Finance bank.
Some others who are currently under investigation include: Lawal Ayo of Omu-Aran Micro Finance Bank; Tope Eniola of Iludun Micro Finance Bank; Lawal Folashade of Stockcarp Micro Finance Bank; Yusuf Tajudeen of First Heritage Micro Finance Bank, and Olawoye E.O. of Offa Micro Finance bank.
According to a statement issued yesterday by the spokesperson of the EFCC, Tony Orilade, the commission received intelligence reports of fraudulent misappropriation and mismanagement of about N2billion given by the Kwara State Government to assist market men and women across the 16 Local Government Areas of the state.
He said: “Investigations further revealed that at the point of granting the loans, Soewu (Director-General of Kwara State Bureau of Small and Medium Enterprise Development), and the 16 Micro Finance Bank Chiefs failed to follow due process.
“It was also revealed that the two billion naira loan facility which was designed for lending to the general public to support their businesses and augment their working capital was distributed to highly placed politicians, traditional rulers and prominent people within the 16 LGAs.”
The EFCC spokesman also revealed that while being interrogated, Soewu and one of the managing directors of the affected banks said: “A prominent and First Class traditional ruler in the state received over N78million cash from the loans, which was designed to assist petty traders but never returned a dime.
“The traditional ruler through his company, Yafy International Ventures Limited secured the loans without following the due process.
“Selected and influential market men and women across the 16 Local Government Areas of the state received the sum of N5million each as loans, but did not pay back the money.”
The EFCC asserted that while 50 percent of the loans were shared by highly placed persons and selected businessmen and women between 2012 to 2018 at the expense of other beneficiaries, they never paid back the huge loans they secured which defeats the purpose of SME development.