REVEALED: Emefiele operated 593 illegal US, UK, China accounts – CBN investigator
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.
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.
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.
Credit: The Punch