Emefiele: Probe unveils shocking details of fraud, mismanagement in CBN

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Emefiele: Probe unveils shocking details of fraud, mismanagement in CBN

By Ayorinde Oluokun/Abuja

 

 

A report by Jim Obazee led special investigator appointed by President Bola Tinubu to probe the management of the Central Bank of Nigeria has unearthed monumental mismanagement, fraud and arbitrariness in the management of the apex bank with loss of trillions to Nigeria under the leadership of its former governor, Godwin Emefiele.

The President appointed the Special Investigator to probe the apex bank after the suspension of Emefiele as Governor of the CBN on June 9, 2023. The former CBN was arrested by the Department of State Services, DSS.

However, the secret police later handed him over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. Subsequently, he was arraigned on six-count charge bordering on alleged N1.6 billion procurement fraud on 17 November.

But if the interim and final report of the Special Investigator submitted on 20 December, Emefiele, may even be in a bigger trouble in the days ahead. But he was not alone in the financial perfidy well documented in the interim and final report of the Special Investigator submitted to the President.

Other top officials of the apex bank, top officials of the former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration and a Minister were indicted in the report, according to a source. A total of 16 people indicated in the report were recommended for prosecution over their involvement in the various fraudulent deals in the CBN.

The reports detailed rampant violations of the CBN Act, arbitrariness, diversion and looting of funds, forgery, collusion, fraud against Emefiele and his collaborators in and outside of the CBN.

Highlights of the arbitrariness of Emefiele, according to a source include investment of billions of dollars of funds belonging to Nigeria in accounts in the United States, China and United Kingdom without obtaining the permission of the CBN Board and the Investment Committee. According to the findings of the Special Investigator, over 500 of such accounts were operated by CBN under Emefiele with £543,482, 213 kept in fixed deposits in one of the accounts in the UK.

The Special Investigator has already traced all the the accounts. The report was also revealing on the fraud and mismanagement of the controversial Ways and Means by the CBN under the Buhari administration. Findings by the Special Investigator indicated that the management of the Way and Means dogged with a lot of arbitrariness under Emefiele with funds being taken out of the national treasury without the necessary authorisation.

In his report, the Special Investigator indicated that the CBN officers could not give satisfactory explanation of how the over the N27 trillion was expended or the authorization of the president to embark on the spending. Confronted on the nearly N30 trillion presented to the 9th National Assembly securitization as “Ways and Means” financing, CBN officials were only able to justify over N9 trillion and a supposed non-negotiated/unadvised interest element of over N6 trillion, thus raising red flag that the so called ‘Way and Means Financing’ was a conduit pipe for looting of the common patrimony under the leadership of Emefiele and the Ministry of Finance.

On the contrary, report of the Special Investigator, based on the documents provided by the CBN and the Ministry of Finance was just over N4 trillion as at the time the former administration asked the 9th Assembly to securitize the advances of N22,719,703,774,306.90 on the 19th December 2022 in contravention of the CBN Act, 2007. Even more baffling was the finding that Emefiele asked Buhari to initiate the process of restructuring “Ways and Means” of N23,719,703,774,306.90, the same day the N22 trillion was presented to the National Assembly for securitization.

However, Emefiele put the final figure of “Ways and Means” at N26.627 trillion as at 8 June 2023 indicating that the CBN under his leadership and despite the outrage that greeted continued to dubiously print money for unclear purposes as indicated in the report.
In the same vein, the report also detailed how the CBN under Emefiele mismanaged about N1.622 trillion COVID-19 intervention funds with unauthorized transfer s to and donations to different individuals and organisations. Shocking still, were findings by the Special Investigator on how the former CBN Governor manipulated the directive of the former President Goodluck Jonathan on the establishment of the Nigeria Electricity Supply Industry, NESI Stabilization Strategy Limited.

The former President had approved the formation of the entity as a Special Purpose Vehicle, SPV limited by Guarantee.

But contrary to the instruction, Emefiele had incorporated the entity as a company limited by shares, thus enabling it to issue debentures, despite being a virgin entity. Thus, the former CBN Governor laid the ground for issuance of over N64 billion debenture issuance by the company approved by Committee of Governors of CBN at its Meeting of 21st January 2015 against stipulations of a violation of Section 31 of the CBN Act, 2007.

A total of N952 billion was diverted from the vaults of the CBN under this guise as at financial Year end 2021,, the Special Investigator report indicated. According to report, while N1.325billion was diverted to four companies pre-incorporation of the firm, 14 banks were involved in fraudulent diversion of over N17 billion of the Nigerian Electricity Market Stabilization Facility.

Yet, another shocking finding in the report was how Emefiele decided to embark on the economic injurious naira redesign police at the prompting of a Buhari aide, Tunde Sabiu. Emefiele had embarked on the venture which led to collapse of many small and micro businesses and financial ruins for many Nigerians without getting the permission of the President, contrary to Section 19(1) of the CBN Act.

Findings by the Special Investigator also indicated that the Board of CBN was not involved in the decision to redesign and that indeed, the initiative was suggested to Emefiele by Sabiu during his visit to the presidential villa in September 2022. Consequently, the former CBN Governor wrote a memo to the President seeking approval to embark on the venture on 6th October 2022.

The proposal was approved the same day, with the proviso that the new naira notes should be printed locally. But contrary to the instruction of the President, the former CBN Governor awarded the contract for the design to a UK firm, De La Rue with N61.5billion incurred by the apex bank as the cost of the printing. Worse still Emefiele left behind a debt of over N30 billion incurred for printing of the currency as only N31.79billion of the contract sum has been paid as at the time of his leaving the office.

 

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