PIC demands Ecobank chief resign

South Africa's Public Investment Corporation, the biggest shareholder in Togo’s Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, said it wants the immediate resignation of the lender's chief executive, Thierry Tanoh.

Tanoh used "strange tactics" to stop Ecobank's board meeting on February 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 on Saturday.

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 February 25 that while it had reservations, it would vote in favour 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 emailed request for comment; Ecobank spokesman Mwambu Wanendeya didn't immediately respond to a phone call or email outside normal business hours. Siaka didn't immediately reply to an email.

"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." – Bloomberg

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