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REVEALED: How Emefiele operated 593 illegal US, UK, China accounts – CBN investigator

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The former Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Godwin Emefiele, illegally lodged billions of naira in no fewer than 593 bank accounts in the United States, United Kingdom, and China without the approval of the apex bank’s board of directors and the CBN Investment Committee.

The Special Investigator on the CBN and Related Entities, Jim Obaze, found that the ex-CBN governor lodged £543, 482,213 in fixed deposits in UK banks alone without authorisation.

When contacted, counsel for Emefiele, Mathew Bukkaa, SAN, asked one of our correspondents to send him a text message. He has yet to reply to the message as of the time of filing this report.

Meanwhile, Obaze submitted his final report tagged, ‘Report of the Special Investigation on CBN and Related Entities (Chargeable offences) to President Bola Tinubu on Wednesday.

The report partly read, “The former governor of CBN, Godwin Emefiele invested Nigeria’s money without authorization in 593 foreign bank accounts in United States, China and United Kingdom, while he was in charge.

“All the accounts where the billions were lodged have all been traced by the investigator.”

In a letter dated July 28, 2023, sighted by The PUNCH, President Bola Tinubu had named a former Executive Secretary of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria, Obazee, as the CBN special investigator

Emefiele, who is currently in Kuje Custodial Centre, is being prosecuted for N1.2 billion procurement fraud.

He has not been able to perfect the N300m bail granted him by a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory on November 22.

However, documents obtained by our correspondent on Thursday indicated that the former apex bank governor might face fresh criminal charges over the handling of the CBN naira redesign policy.

Emefiele could be prosecuted for illegal issuance of currency under section 19 of the CBN Act alongside Tunde Sabiu, a former aide to former President Muhammadu Buhari, and 12 top directors of the CBN.

It was gathered that the naira redesign policy was sold to Buhari at the instance of Sabiu and that the initiative was done without the approval of the board of the CBN.

No approval

The investigator found that Buhari didn’t approve of the naira redesign. It was Tunde Sabiu who first told Emefiele in September 2022 to consider the redesign of the naira. On October 6, 2022, Emefiele wrote to Buhari that he wanted to redesign and reconfigure N1000, N500 and N200 notes.

“The former President tagged along but did not approve the redesign as required by law. Buhari merely approved that the currency be printed in Nigeria. The redesign was only mentioned to the board of the CBN on December 15, 2022, after Emefiele had awarded the contract to the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Plc on October 31, 2022,’’ the documents noted.

Emefiele was said to have contracted the redesign of the naira to De La Rue of the UK for £205, 000 pounds under the vote head of the Currency Operations Department after the NSPM said it could not deliver the contract within a short timeframe.

The special investigator found that N61.5bn was earmarked for the printing of the new notes out of which N31.79bn had been paid.

As of August 9, 2023, findings revealed that N769bn of the new notes were in circulation.

The probe of the CBN also revealed the fraudulent use of N26.627tn Ways and Means of the Apex Bank as well as the misuse of the COVID-19 intervention fund.

For instance, the CBN under Emefiele at its 661st meeting held on October 27, 2020, approved that the Consolidated Revenue Fund Account should be debited with the sum of N124.860bn, and the decision was implemented on October 9.

Similarly, the Committee of Governors at its 670th meeting held on December 9, 2020, granted anticipatory approval ‘’pending receipt of a formal request by Mr President and ratification by the board of directors the payment of the sum of N250bn only to the Federal Government of Nigeria to address challenges as a result of low revenue inflow and the payment of salaries.

The decision was implemented on December 15, 2020.

Anticipatory approval

Also on December 30, 2020, the committee of governors at its 672nd meeting granted another anticipatory approval for N250bn to the Federal Government for payment of salaries pending receipt of a formal request by Mr President and ratification by the board of directors.

The apex bank’s management through the Finance and General Purpose Committee equally granted anticipatory approval on the investment of $200mn in equity warrants of the Africa Finance Corporation.

According to section 38 of the CBN Act, 2007, the CBN could grant temporary advances to the Federal Government in respect of temporary deficiency of budget revenue at an interest.

The section also provides that such advances are to be repaid by the end of the financial year in which they are granted otherwise, the CBN shall be stopped from granting such advances in the subsequent year.

The advance is not to be repaid by way of promissory note, securitization or issuance of treasury bills.(The Punch)

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Economy

Currency Speculators in Trouble as Naira’s Resurgence Continues

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Currency speculators are in trouble as the Naira has continued to gather strength in the market in recent times.

It would be recalled that the US Dollar exchanged for nearly N2,000 in February this year, same with the Pounds, Euro and other foreign currencies.

However, the Naira has continued to gather strength and is currently hovering around N1,480 and N1,520 for a Dollar.

To that end, the Presidency has warned forex speculators to discard their Dollars, saying that the Naira will soon appreciate more and may depreciate their savings.

President Bola Tinubu’s Special Adviser on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, made this call in a statement via his X handle on Thursday.

The presidential aide urged speculators to quickly dump their dollars to avoid “tears.”

He stated, “With backlog FX settled, Naira is set to appreciate further, faster. Currency speculators should quickly dump their stock of dollars to avoid sorrows and tears.”

Onanuga was reacting to the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, disclosure that it had cleared the $7 billion foreign exchange backlog inherited by Governor Yemi Cardoso.

Yemi Cardoso, CBN Governor

In a statement on Wednesday, CBN’s Acting Director of Corporate Communications, Mrs Hakama Sidi Ali, confirmed the settlement of all valid FX backlog claims.

Ali said the apex bank employed Deloitte Consulting, an independent auditing firm, to meticulously assess the transactions, ensuring that only legitimate claims were honoured.

“Any invalid transactions were referred to the relevant authorities for further investigation,” she stated.

The CBN’s commitment to tackling the FX backlog appears to be paying off, with the external reserves seeing a significant rise, reaching $34.11 billion as of March 7, 2024, the highest level in eight months.

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Economy

CBN Uncovers $2.4b Invalid FOREX Claims

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CBN Governor Yemi Cardoso

Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Yemi Cardoso said the apex bank has discovered $2.4 billion invalid forex outstanding claims pressuring the naira and causing anxiety in the currency market.

Cardoso disclosed this in an interview with Arise Television on Monday.

According to Cardoso, this was uncovered during an audit by the consultant the CBN hired, which exposed a number of dubious transactions.

The CBN Governor stated that the apex bank commissioned Deloitte to look into the FX allegations to provide a true picture of the situation.

Cardoso said, according to the Deloitte assessment, up to $2.4 billion of the backlog consists of fictitious claims, with claimants in certain cases being unable to provide import documentation.

“We had had reasons to believe we needed to take a harder look at these obligations. So we contracted Deloitte management consultants to do a forensics of all these obligations and to actually tell us what was valid and what was not,” Mr Cardoso said.

“The result that came out of this was startling in a great respect. It was startling. We discovered that of the roughly $7 billion, about $2.4 billion had issues, which we believe had no business being there and the infractions on that ranged from so many things, for example not having valid import documents and in some cases entities that do not exist,” he said.

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Economy

We are Determined to Stabilise Forex and Boost Economic Growth. -FG

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By Christopher Sunday

Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, has said the Tinubu administration is committed to implementing macroeconomic reforms.
aimed at curbing inflation, easing the cost of living, and stabilising the foreign exchange as part of the broader objective of boosting economic growth.

The Minister stated this on Saturday in Minna, Niger State, at the 2024 Press Week of the Niger State Chapter of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).

Represented by the Director General of the Voice of Nigeria, Mallam Jibrin Baba Ndace, the Minister said the year 2024 holds a lot of prospects for Nigerians as some of the promising initiatives of the administration begin to bear fruit.

“Permit me, distinguished invited guests, as chief spokesperson of the Federal
Government of Nigeria, to use this hallowed platform to tell Nigerians, at this early and auspicious time of the year, that 2024 would be a great year for Nigeria as thepolicies of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu under the Renewed Hope Agenda takefirmer roots for the growth of our nation’s economic development, our invaluablehuman assets, and national security.

“The Tinubu administration will continue to implement macroeconomic reforms.
to achieve broad economic objectives of sustained economic growth aimed at
bringing down inflation, easing the cost of living, and stabilising foreign exchange
and job creation, among others,” he said.

Idris said, against the backdrop of the withdrawal of fuel subsidies, liberalising the foreign exchange regime, and the fight against corruption, the Tinubu government is showing fidelity to the rule of law and the independence of institutions, as demonstrated in the recent judgements of the courts.

The Minister explained that the recent Federal Government decision to relocate certain departments of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the headquarters of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to Lagos is part of a broader strategy to enhance operational efficiency, streamline processes, ensure a responsive financial system for Nigeria, and cut operations costs. He emphasised that the government’s directive aligns with global best practices and has no political motivation, however wrongly propagated.

The minister assured that no policy of the present administration would put any part of the country in a disadvantageous position. “President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s commitment to fairness and equitable development, as outlined in his oath of office, ensures that no policy under his administration will disadvantage any region. His dedication to fostering national unity and inclusivity is reflected in policies guided by principles of fairness and equality,” he said.

The Minister, who also used the occasion to enlist the support of the media in the fight against fake news, said the hydra-headed menace of fake news is ravaging the media space. “My dear colleagues, we need to rise against the elements of fake news that are deliberately designed to misinform Nigerians,” he said.

Idris also announced to the gathering that the Federal Government would soon unveil comprehensive details of the National Values Charter, which are aimed at inculcating values in the citizenry.

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