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Ecobank CEO forgoes bonus pending Nigeria investigation

LAGOS (Reuters) - The CEO of African lender Ecobank (LAG:ETI) has forgone his bonus as part of efforts to rebuild confidence after Nigeria's SEC said it was investigating corporate governance issues at the bank, a spokesman said on Monday.

Ecobank Chief Executive Officer Thierry Tanoh has passed up his bonus award and "reverted to the original terms of his contract," bank spokesman Jeremy Reynolds said in an email to Reuters.

He did not specify the size of the bonus.

A senior source at Nigeria's securities regulator said on Friday that Togo-based Ecobank was being questioned over an alleged misstatement of its 2012 performance.

Nigeria's SEC spokesman Obi Adindu declined a telephone interview, but on Monday sent a text message to Reuters saying that "the thrust and focus of those investigations is corporate governance."

Adindu also told Reuters that "as of today, the SEC is not investigating misstatement of ETI's 2012 account."

He also said their investigation was now about someone in the bank "being pressured to commit (a) misstatement," without elaborating further.

The initial complaint about governance came from Laurence do Rego, the bank's suspended head of finance, whom Ecobank had suspended.

Ecobank's Reynolds said in an email that Do Rego's original allegation was that Tanoh had tried to pressure her to alter the 2012 results, but that she had refused.

"Thierry is clear that he made no such request," he added.

The bank's shares closed down 2.32 percent on Monday, underperforming the Nigerian banking index <.NGSEBNK10>, which rose almost 1 percent.

Ecobank is often touted as a pan-African banking success story, with a high-growth, aggressive expansion strategy. In July, the lender denied that it had broken any company rules in issuing loans to businesses associated with its chairman Kolapo Lawson.

(Reporting by Tim Cocks)