Friday, 14 October 2016

Senate summons CBN, MTN, banks over $13.9bn transfer probe

The Senate on Thursday summoned the Central Bank of
Nigeria, MTN Nigeria, the Financial Reporting Council of
Nigeria, three commercial banks and some businessmen
over alleged violation of the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring
and Miscellaneous) Act.

The upper chamber of the National Assembly had instituted a
probe into what it called the illegal transfer of $13.9bn by
MTN from Nigeria to other countries between 2006 and 2016.

The Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other
Financial Institutions was mandated to carry out the probe
by conducting an investigative hearing on the “unscrupulous
violation of the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and
Miscellaneous) Act.

The summons was contained in the “Notice of Appearance”
issued by the Chairman of the committee, Senator Rafiu
Ibrahim, to the affected organisations and individuals, and
obtained by our correspondent.

The notice read in part, “Pursuant to Senate Resolution S/
Res/017/02/16 of 27th of September, 2016 on the above
subject matter, the organisations and individuals listed
below are invited to appear before the Senate Committee on
Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions on
Thursday, 20th of October, 2016.

“The organisations and individuals who have not submitted
the documents requested for in our earlier letter of 29th of
September, 2016 are advised to do so on or before Tuesday,
18th of October, 2016.

“Mobile Telecommunications Network, Central Bank of
Nigeria, Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria, Dr. Pascal
Dozie, Colonel Sani Bello, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, Ahmed
Dasuki, Gbenga Oyebode, Babatunde Folawiyo and Victor
Also invited are Stanbic IBTC, Standard Chartered Bank,
Citibank and Diamond Bank.

The Senate began the probe on September 27, 2016, when a
member of the upper chamber representing Kogi-West
Senatorial District, Senator Dino Melaye, alleged that MTN
illegally repatriated the sum out of the country through its
The lawmaker alleged that MTN transferred through Stanbic
IBTC the sum of $4.87bn; Standard Chartered Bank,
$5.72bn; Citi Bank, $2.98bn; and Diamond Bank, $0.35bn.

Melaye, who recalled that MTN, which is headquartered in
South Africa, was incorporated in Nigeria as a private Limited
Liability Company on November 8, 2000 and obtained its
operating licence with $284.9m on February 6, 2001, alleged
that the company did not request the Certificate of Capital
Importation for the transaction.

He said, “The Senate observes that MTN did not request for
the Certificate of Capital Importation from its bankers,
Standard Chartered Bank, within the regulatory period of 24
hours of the inflow. The Senate observes also that the CBN
was not notified of this inflow by Standard Chartered Bank
within 48 hours of receipt and conversion of the proceeds to
naira as required by regulations.

“It further observes that the sum of $117,683,987bn was also
brought in by MTN between 2001 and 2003 in three different
tranches. It is concerned that since inception, MTN had
sought the collaboration of influential and unpatriotic
Nigerians to assist them in looting our external reserves.”
The Nigerians, Melaye added, included a serving minister,
who MTN allegedly used in moving $13.92bn out of the
country, a sum that is over 50 per cent of the country’s
external reserves, to floated and incorporated offshore
Special Purpose Vehicles in the Cayman Island, Mauritius
and British Virgin Island.

Melaye added, “The Senate was alarmed that the Minister of
Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah,
owner of CELTELCOM Investment Limited with address at
No.608, St. James Denis Street, Port Lewis, Mauritius,
purportedly claimed to invest in MTN on the 7th of February,
2008, got a Certificate of Capital Importation and filled the
Form ‘A’ on the same date) and closed his investment in
Nigeria after receiving dollar payment for repatriation to New
York same day.

“It is also aware that these offshore entities were offered
shareholders loan and their repayment to the extent of
repatriation of proceeds of dividends back to MTN
International South Africa through the entities and operators
of the SPVs brought on board as directors of MTN

“The Senate observes that after five years of operation in
Nigeria, the management of MTN Nigeria Limited suddenly
realised that they needed the Certificate of Capital
Importation to enable them to commence repatriation of
funds realised from their businesses.

“It observes also that MTN directed their bankers, i.e.
Standard Chartered Bank, Citi Bank and Diamond Bank, to
issue Certificate of Capital Importation for inflows that came
in five to seven years ago, which their bankers obliged
without the relevant approval from the CBN.”

The lawmaker stated that what MTN’s bankers did was in
strict violation of Section 15 of the Foreign Exchange
(Monitoring and Miscellaneous) Act, 1995.

Credit : punch news

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