By Dipo Olowookere
If a poll is conducted on which bank customers in Nigeria are in confused and panic mode at the moment, the result might show those with Heritage Bank in the lead.
News reports hitting the cyber space lately concerning the financial institution have not been very palatable to the ears. Even the deaf and the blind are getting worried too.
In the past months, Heritage Bank has had to run to the roof tops to allay the fears of its numerous customers that it is not in distress as being reported in some quarters.
Also, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has had to join in the ‘town crying’ that Heritage Bank is healthy and not heading to the rocks.
Some weeks ago, it was reported that Heritage Bank Plc was unable to meet customers’ immediate withdrawal requests and also wiped out all foreign currency domiciliary accounts.
It was further alleged in the report that senior management staff of the bank plunged it to crisis through embezzlement carried out by award of bogus contracts to relatives.
According to a latest report, it was alleged that Heritage Bank is presently like a ghost its management is desperately trying to give the appearance of a virile financial institution.
It was also alleged that Heritage Bank sold one of its properties on Femi Pearse Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, to attain a measure of liquidity and used the proceeds to pay the rent of the bank’s offices at Ajose Adeogun and Moshood Olugbani Streets, both on Victoria Island, Lagos.
Furthermore, the report further alleged that the bank’s management has been borrowing money to pay salaries since September 2016 and has also embarked on sacking its workers in batches so as to lessen its workforce due to its present state.
In all these, customers of the bank do not know what step to take at the moment; whether to quickly withdraw all their hard-earned money or leave it with the bank or if to believe assurances from the bank and the CBN or to reports warning them of imminent danger.
What has fuelled the dilemma more is the fact that in Nigeria, it is normal for management of banks to make things look very good until bubble bursts. Cases of banks looking very vibrant on the outside in the late 2000s, which were later sold, quickly come to mind.
It is now being feared if Heritage Bank customers won’t turn out to be like participants of MMM Nigeria, who were being assured of safety of their money by operators despite warnings from government agencies, but only to wake up this week to learn that they have been barred from withdrawing their money until 2017, dashing their hopes of a vibrant Christmas.
But in all, Heritage Bank has continued to assure its customers that it is still very healthy and that their money is in safe hands.
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