* Ecobank in dispute with Nigeria regulator over former
* Ecobank shareholders to vote on creation of seven member
* Former chairman says some board members may attempt to
By Matthew Mpoke Bigg
ACCRA, Feb 24 Pan-African lender Ecobank
will hold a hastily arranged board meeting on Tuesday,
nearly two weeks after the bank's executive leaders wrote to the
chairman calling for Chief Executive Thierry Tanoh to step down.
A bank spokesman said the agenda would not be disclosed in
advance but the meeting comes at a time of division in the
leadership of one of Africa's largest financial institutions and
pressure over the status of the bank's former finance director.
Deputy chief executive Albert Essien and three other members
of the five-member Group Executive Committee (GEC) that Tanoh
leads sent an email on Feb. 13 to board chairman Andre Siaka
saying Tanoh should stand down to resolve a long-running crisis
Last week, Nigeria's Securities and Exchange Commission
(SEC) said it had written to Ecobank to say it should reinstate
its finance director, Laurence do Rego, who left the bank in
The SEC began an investigation last August after do Rego
told regulators she was pressured to misstate 2012 financial
results. Ecobank denies this and said she was suspended in a
dispute over her professional qualifications prior to making her
The bank has told the SEC that to reinstate do Rego would be
criminal under Togolese law.
Siaka said the meeting would begin at 10 a.m. (0900 GMT) in
Lome, Togo, where the bank has its headquarters, but declined to
give details of the agenda.
"There will be a board meeting tomorrow in Lome and the
agenda is confirmed," Siaka told Reuters by telephone.
Ecobank's board has 12 members, including Tanoh and the four
other members of the executive committee that runs the bank.
The board meeting comes before an extraordinary general
meeting (EGM) in Lome on March 3 that is set to consider a slate
of governance reforms including establishing a seven-member
interim board that would include no place for GEC members other
The EGM follows criticism of the bank's governance by the
Nigerian regulator as well as a report on governance by
professional services organisation EY that was commissioned by
A senior bank official said it would be highly unusual to
make any substantive changes so soon before an EGM and to do so
could complicate the March 3 meeting given that its agenda has
already been announced.
Two sources close to the board said the question of Tanoh's
leadership would likely be considered on Tuesday and so the key
question was whether Tanoh's opponents could muster a majority
of votes on the issue.
Both of those sources said they assumed all four senders of
the Feb. 13 email would vote against him.
"What they want to do is to force a vote on Mr Tanoh's
position. They want to get rid of him before the EGM," former
board chairman Kolapo Lawson told Reuters.
Lawson resigned as chairman in October, saying at the time
he did not want to preside over the governance review.