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Alleged repatriation of $13.92bn: Senate summons minister, MTN, others

By Henry Umoru & Joseph Erunke
ABUJA—FOLLOWING the alleged repatriation of $13.92 billion from Nigeria without authorisation, the Senate has summoned the Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah and Mobile Telecommunication Network, MTN, to appear next Thursday and explain their various roles in the act.

In a letter signed by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, Senator Rafiu Adebayo Ibrahim (APC, Kwara South), the Senate also summoned Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele; Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria; Diamond Bank; Citibank; Standard Chartered Bank and Stanbic IBTC.Others summoned are the former  Chairman of Diamond Bank, Pascal Dozie, Ahmed Dasuki, Gbenga Oyebode, Babatunde Folawiyo, Enelamah, Mohammed Sanni Bello and Victor Odili.

The letter, which is  titled  Investigative Hearing on the Unscrupulous violation of the foreign Exchange( Monitoring and Miscellaneous) Act, Notice of Appearance, which was obtained yesterday read:  “Pursuant to Senate Resolution S/Res/017/02/16 of September 27, 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, October 20, 2016.

Phuthuma Nhleko New MTN boss
Phuthuma Nhleko New MTN boss

Fraudulent  repatriation

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

It will be recalled that the Senate in September, opened a probe into the alleged fraudulent repatriation of $13.92 billion from Nigeria by the Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, in collusion with MTN Nigeria Limited, without authorisation.

According to the Senate,  the MTN smartly beat the Nigeria’s financial regulatory laws by failing to obtain a certificate of capital importation, which would have authorised it to move capital into Nigeria from its South African bankers, Standard Chartered Bank, as authorised by the law within 24 hours.The Senate noted that  MTN worked in collaboration with the Minister of Trade and Investment, adding that the company exploited what it described as the porous Nigerian financial system by illegally moving the money out of the country.

The position of the Senate was sequel to a motion by Senator Dino Melaye, APC, Kogi West, who gave the breakdown of how the money was repatriated through four banks.

The motion listed the banks and money repatriated through  them to include Stanbic IBTC – $4.87 billion; Standard Chartered Bank – $5.72 billion; Citi Bank – $2.98 billion and Diamond Bank – $0.35 billion, pointing out that the repatriation was done in violation of Memorandum 22 of the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring & Miscellaneous) Act, 1995.

According to the motion,MTN was incorporated in Nigeria in 2000 as a private liability company and eventually obtained its operating licence with the sum of $284,906,275.89 on February 6, 2001 but failed to bring capital into Nigeria as required.

The Senate added that when the company eventually moved in $117.6 billion between 2001 and 2003, it did so in three tranches.

The motion which had described the    action as a complete violation of the law authorising capital importation  within 24 hours, said: “The Senate notes with serious concern the repatriation of $13.92 billion illegally out of Nigeria by Mobile Telecommunication Network (MTN) Limited through its bankers between 2006 and 2016.

“The Senate is aware that MTN was incorporated in Nigeria as a private limited liability company on the 8th of November 2000, obtaining its operating licence with $284,906,275.89 on February, 2001.

“The Senate observes that MTN did not request for certificate of capital importation from its bankers, Standard Chartered Bank, within the regulatory period of 24 hours of the inflow.

“It 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.

“The Senate further observes that the sum of $117.68 billion was also brought in by MTN between 2001 and 2003 in three different tranches.

“The Senate is concerned that since inception, MTN sought the collaboration of influential and unpatriotic Nigerians to assist them in looting our external reserves.”

Melaye in the motion accused Enelamah, whom  he said owned  CELTELCOM in Mauritius, of claiming to have invested in MTN on February 6 , 2008, and consequently obtained a certificate of capital importation, which investment  he closed same day, after receiving dollar payments and repatriating same to New York.

Dollar payment for repatriation

Adebayo-Shittu, Communications Minister
Adebayo-Shittu, Communications Minister

He said:  ‘’It is alarming that the Minister of Trade, Industry 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 February 7,2008, got a certificate of capital importation and filled Form A on the same day, closed his investment in Nigeria after receiving dollar payment for repatriation to New York on the same day.”

He also alleged that some Nigerians, including the former Chairman of Diamond Bank, Pascal Dozie, Ahmed Dasuki, Genga Oyebode, Babatunde Folawiyo, Enelamah, Mohammed Sanni Bello and Victor Odili operated Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) outside the country.

The Senate then mandated the Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions to carry out a holistic investigation into the matter and report its findings back to the Senate.

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