Soludo, Sanusi Under Probe Over Alleged Illegal Transfers Of N11bn | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Soludo, Sanusi Under Probe Over Alleged Illegal Transfers Of N11bn

sanusi, lamido
Posted: Aug 31, 2016 at 4:30 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Isuma Mark

Abuja – Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo and Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, two former Governors of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), are being linked with illegal transfers of N11 billion during their tenure, according to sources at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The allegations against the duo are coming on the heels of their recent criticism of the current administration on its handling of the economy.

The INDEPENDENT gathered that Soludo is being investigated for an alleged transfer of $300 million from the account of the African Finance Corporation (AFC) domiciled at the CBN to a New York account of United Bank for Africa (UBA) during his tenure.

In the case of Sanusi, incumbent Emir of Kano, the searchlight is on him over key monetary policy initiatives under his tenure as CBN Governor, specifically the foreign exchange policy that recorded allocations to allegedly phoney Bureaux De Change (BDC).

Investigations indicate that the $300 million transferred under Soludo was used for transactions that yielded profits which may have gone into individuals’ pockets.

At the time of the transaction, Soludo was Chairman of the AFC, while Tony Elumelu, then Chief Executive of United Bank for Africa (UBA) and Jim Ovia, then Zenith Bank’s CEO, were members of the Board of Directors.

Other members of the Board were Aliko Dangote, Femi Otedola and Cecilia Ibru, then Oceanic Bank’s CEO.

The Independent equally learnt that Soludo would be reinvestigated over the polymer notes he printed while in the saddle at the CBN.

Though sources at the EFCC confirmed that the ex-CBN boss was left off the hook by the immediate past EFCC chairman, Mallam Ibrahim Larmode, the EFCC is set to re-examine the case.

“The government is not satisfied with the way Soludo’s case was concluded with ‘no case to answer’,” the source said.

On Sanusi, the INDEPENDENT gathered that the report of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN), which raised several allegations against Sanusi, could be what the EFCC is leveraging in its investigation of the former CBN Governor.

“That FRCN report is in the public domain. The agency won’t comment on that but I can say a team has begun looking at it since a reputable financial council raised the key allegations,” INDEPENDENT learnt.

The FRCN had accused Sanusi of using his office to abuse public trust; that he spent N1.257 billion for providing lunch for policemen and private guards in 2012.

Former President Goodluck Jonathan subsequently suspended Sanusi based on the 13-page FRCN report, albeit a move critics deemed a political witch-hunt.

Other allegations gleaned from the reports were that Sanusi paid some airlines large sums in foreign currency for distribution.

It was also alleged that in 2011, the CBN under Sanusi made payment to NSPMC Plc for the “printing of bank notes;” but for which the country lost over N9 billion.

According to the report, Sanusi sanctioned the payment of N38.233 billion to NSPMC; however the printing and minting company could only gross N29.370 billion that year.

The EFCC would also look into “ambiguous payments” by Sanusi’s CBN in respect to invoices drawn and referred to as “Centre of Excellence” and “Contribution to Internal National Security,” which the FRCN queried and said ran into billions of naira.

The source further disclosed that the EFCC would reopen investigation into Sanusi’s controversial banking reform, which witnessed the reconsolidated of some banks in alleged opaque circumstances leading to the acquisition of many of the banks considers healthy at the time – and whether he employed wanton high-handedness and abuse of office in the process.

The EFCC has dismissed insinuations that the presidency is behind the latest move to reopen investigation of the duo owing to their recent scathing criticism of the government.

Soludo, who was appointed CBN Governor by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in May 2004, left office in May 2009. He was accused by former Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of “an incredible accumulation of liabilities that will cost tax payers about N5.67 trillion,” during the banking reform he embarked on between 2005-2006.

Few days ago, he criticised the Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government when he said, “There seems to be a potential conflict with what the people want and what the country needs to survive sustainably. The economy is stuck on a slippery muddy length today with a fragile state.”

He was speaking at an event organised by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kaduna, which had in attendance Vice President Yemi Osibanjo and governors elected on the APC platform.

Sanusi, on his part, took an unprecedented approach in his criticism of the current administration. “You don’t have to be an economist to know that any system that allows you to sit in your garden, and with a telephone call, make one billion naira without investing a kobo, that system is wrong. It is unsustainable,” Sanusi is quoted as saying.

“And just so we are not always blaming the previous administration, we have also made mistakes in this administration. And if we fall into the same holes that we fell into the last time, where the government is always right… If a policy is wrong, it is wrong. Nothing will make it right and it has to be changed,” the former CBN Governor had asserted.

In the case against Sanusi, EFCC’s strong reliance on FRCN’s report to move against the former CBN governor has also come under a major censure given an earlier court ruling.

It is recalled that sometime in May, 2014 a Federal High Court in Lagos, presided over Justice John Tsoho, had ruled that the FRCN has no investigative powers to probe Sanusi, hence it acted ultra vires when it undertook the action.

Justice Tsoho therefore barred the FRCN from investigating him, describing the action taken by the FRCN as biased, malicious, premeditated, frivolous, deliberately skewed, malafide and abuse of executive power.

This raises the question as to why any reliance could be placed on a report, which a competent court has dismissed.

Besides, Sanusi himself has denied the allegations of the FRCN, stressing that he followed approved procedures during his tenure.