The modus operandi used by the management of Banque Internationale du Cameroun pour l’Epargne et le Crédit (BICEC), to embezzle funds from this subsidiary of the French group BPCE, is getting known.
According to Quotidien Mutations, who cites sources close to the affair, it was the discovery, in early 2016, of unrealistic procurement invoices by the firm Seaca, which led to the discovery of the truth. A case which today caused the former Deputy MD of BICEC, Innocent Ondoa Nkou, and the Accounts and Treasury Director, Samuel Ngando Mbongué, to be jailed, with some of their colleagues, at the central prison of Douala, in the Cameroonian economic capital.
Indeed, by compiling many invoices payed by BICEC in early 2016, we learn, the above-mentioned firm discovered invoices (which turned out to be fake) addressed on the letterhead of a local car dealership, for the direct purchase of 450 vehicles for the working needs of the bank. Purchases which the Seaca experts deemed suspect, since usually, BICEC procures its official vehicles solely through a leasing option (hire with a purchase option) from dealerships.
These suspicions from the auditors got stronger when it was also discovered in the accounting documents of the bank, a purchase order for 1,000 safes from the company Interface (whose sponsor was also arrested as part of this case), when BICEC has only 39 branches throughout Cameroon.
Based on these suspicions, an investigation carried out in March 2016 within the bank by Cobac, the regulatory agency in the banking sector in the CEMAC area, resulted in unmasking a network “implicating external service providers with internal complicity”.
Network which, according to the conclusions of the investigation, caused BICEC a financial loss estimated at over FCfa 50 billion over a period of 12 years. Through over-invoicing and fake invoices, regularly payed to service providers “via an off the record system”.