$151m Deposits: Bankers, Civil Servants to Face Trial
By Dipo Olowookere
A list of suspects who will face trial over the $151 million and N8 billion found in fictitious bank accounts is in the works, The Nation learnt yesterday.
On the “long” list are bankers and civil servants, Attorney-General of the Federation Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN) said.
He declined to name the suspects but stressed that the government is interested in knowing how the funds were sourced and lodged in the accounts.
Mr Malami, who spoke with our correspondent from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, said: “But investigation is in top gear and I will not want to jeopardise it by giving out names of those affected.”
Pressed for more comments, Mr Malami said: “I am not certain of the number now but it is huge because it involved a syndicate.
“The culprits include civil servants and bank officials who all connived to stash away these recovered monies.”
He stressed that “no businessman was implicated but the suspects, who are many, are mostly civil servants and bank officials”.
Another government source said the suspects would be named in court when charges are preferred against them.
But there were strong indications yesterday that a commercial bank had written the Federal Government, owning up to the lodgment of $136,676,600.51 in a fictitious account with it.
The bank has promised to remit the slush funds into a dedicated account provided by the government.
The government official, who pleaded not to be named because of “the sensitivity of the matter”, said: “Before the government released the fact-sheet on the recovery of $136,676,600.51, it got a letter of from a commercial bank owning up that the cash was wired into a fictitious account in one of its branches.
“The bank also made a commitment to remit the seized cash to a dedicated account which has been provided by the Federal Government. We are expecting the refund from the bank any moment from now.
“We have the required evidence from the bank with the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (OAGF).”
The government source spoke on the investigation, saying “it is almost completed”.
He agreed that Nigerians were eager to know the suspects, but insisted that “we will release their names only after charges have been preferred against them in court”.
Also yesterday, a Federal High Court sitting in Kano, presided over by Justice Zainab B. Abubakar, ordered the forfeiture of the $9,772,00 and £74,000 by a former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr. Andrew Yakubu, to the Federal Government.
The order was sequel to an ex-parte application by the EFCC seeking an interim forfeiture of the recovered money to the Federal Government.
A statement by the Head of Media and Publicity of EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, said the ex parte application was moved by Salihu Sani, counsel to the applicant.
The statement said: “In her ruling, Justice Zainab held that the sum of $9,772,000 and £74,000 which are now in the custody of the applicant (EFCC) are in the interim forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.”
“On the 3rd day of February, 2017, operatives of the Commission had stormed a building belonging to the former NNPC boss and recovered a staggering sum of $9,772,000 and £74,000 stashed in a huge fire proof safe. On February 8, 2017, Yakubu reported to the Commission’s Kano Zonal Office where he admitted being the owner of both the house and the money recovered.
“Yakubu is still in custody assisting the investigation.”
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Sunday said the “whistle-blower policy has started yielding fruit as it has so far led to the recovery of US$151 million and N8billion in looted funds”.
He said: “The looted funds, which do not include the $9.772 million in cash allegedly owned by a former Group Managing Director of the NNPC (which was also a dividend of the whistle-blower policy), were recovered from just three sources through whistle-blowers who were recovered from just three sources through whistle-blowers who gave actionable information to the office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation.
“The biggest amount of $136,676,600.51 was recovered from an account in a commercial bank, where the money was kept under an apparently fake account name, followed by N7 billion and $15 million from another person and N1 billion from yet another.
“When we told Nigerians that there was a primitive and mindless looting of the national treasury under the last Administration, some people called us liars.
“Well, the whistle-blower policy is barely two months old and Nigerians have started feeling its impact, seeing how a few people squirreled away public funds.
“It is doubtful if any economy in the world will not feel the impact of such mind-boggling looting of the treasury as was experienced in Nigeria.
“Yet whatever has been recovered so far, including the $9.8 million by the EFCC, is just a tip of the iceberg.”
Three Securities Shore Up NASD Market Capitalisation by N14.99bn
By Adedapo Adesanya
The NASD Over-the-Counter (OTC) Securities Exchange closed the final trading session of the week in positive territory as it gained 1.49 per cent at the close of business on Friday, June 2.
This growth was spurred by the upward price movement in the share prices of three companies admitted on the trading platform of the unlisted securities exchange.
FrieslandCampina Wamco Nigeria Plc rose by N4.80 to close at N75.00 per share compared with the preceding day’s N70.20 per share, Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS) Plc gained N1.12 to move up to N15.20 per unit from N14.08 per unit, while Acorn Petroleum Plc added 1 Kobo to close at 15 Kobo versus Thursday’s closing price of 14 Kobo.
The improvement in the prices of the above stocks pushed the market capitalisation of NASD higher by N14.99 billion to N1.023 trillion from N1.007 trillion, as the NASD Unlisted Securities Index (NSI) recorded a 10.84 points gain to wrap the session at 739.21 points compared with 728.37 points in the previous session.
The market witnessed a 15.6 per cent rise in the volume of securities traded by investors yesterday to 1.2 million units from the 1.0 million units transacted a day earlier.
However, the value of shares traded by the market participants decreased by 69.9 per cent to N56.9 million from N189.5 million, as the number of deals declined by 46.7 per cent to eight deals from the 15 deals carried out in the preceding day.
Geo-Fluids Plc closed the day as the most traded stock by volume (year-to-date) with 832.1 million units worth N1.3 billion, Industrial and General Insurance (IGI) Plc has traded 627.7 units valued at N49.4 million, and UBN Property Plc has exchanged 395.9 million units worth N336.6 million.
The most traded stock by value (year-to-date) was VFD Group Plc with 11.0 million units worth N2.5 billion, Geo-Fluids Plc has exchanged 832.1 million units valued at N1.3 billion, and FrieslandCampina Wamco Nigeria Plc has transacted 17.1 million units worth N1.2 billion.
Naira Falls at P2P, Gains at Black Market, Stable at Official Market
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Naira moved in different directions in the various segments of the foreign exchange (FX) market on Friday as traders await the merger of the exchange rates by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as directed by President Bola Tinubu.
Business Post reports that the Naira depreciated against the Dollar at the Peer-2-Peer (P2P) segment, appreciated in the black market, and remained unchanged in the Investors and Exporters (I&E) window.
In the P2P, the value of the local currency to the greenback fell by N9 to sell at N764/$1 compared with Thursday’s value of N755/$1.
At the parallel market, the domestic currency gained N3 against the greenback to sell at N747/$1, in contrast to the preceding session’s N750/$1.
However, in the official market, the Nigerian Naira maintained stability against the US Dollar to remain unchanged at N464.67/$1, as the forex turnover went down by 60.6 per cent or $152.08 million to $98.90 million from $250.98 million.
In the interbank segment, the Naira depreciated against the British Pound Sterling by 91 Kobo to close at N575.28/£1 versus the previous day’s N574.37/£1 and slumped by 12 Kobo against the Euro to sell at N493.70/€1 compared with Thursday’s N493.58/€1.
As for the digital currency, Bitcoin (BTC) jumped by 0.2 per cent to sell at $27,203.27, Ethereum (ETH) appreciated by 0.7 per cent to quote at $1,904.59, Cardano (ADA) added 1.4 per cent to its value to finish at $0.3774, Ripple (XRP) recorded a 1.3 per cent gain to quote at $0.5254, Dogecoin (DOGE) improved its value by 0.6 per cent to close at $0.0726, and Solana (SOL) made a 0.3 per cent rise to sell at $21.13.
On the flip side, Binance Coin (BNB) fell by 0.6 per cent to sell at $306.43, and Litecoin (LTC) followed with a 0.5 per cent loss to trade at $94.72, as the US Dollar Tether (USDT) and Binance USD (BUSD) remained unchanged at $1.00 each.
Oil Closes 2% Higher Ahead Crucial OPEC+ Meeting
By Adedapo Adesanya
Oil rose over 2 per cent on Friday after the United States Congress passed a debt ceiling deal that averted a government default in the world’s biggest oil consumer and jobs data fueled hopes for a possible pause in Federal Reserve interest rate hikes.
The focus is now on a meeting of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, OPEC+, this weekend.
Brent futures rose $1.85 or 2.5 per cent yesterday to $76.13 a barrel, while the US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures appreciated by $1.64 or 2.3 per cent to $71.74 a barrel, the highest since May 26 for WTI and May 29 for Brent, but for the week, both contracts were down about 1 per cent, their first in three weeks.
The US Senate approved a bipartisan deal to suspend the limit on the government debt ceiling, following approval in the House of Representatives, staving off a default that would have affected the markets.
Also, employment in the world’s largest economy increased more than expected in May, but a moderation in wages could allow the US Federal Reserve to skip a rate hike this month for the first time in more than a year, which could support oil demand.
However, a jump in the unemployment rate to 3.7 per cent from 3.4 per cent in the prior month, a slowing in the pace of hourly wage growth, and a decline in hours worked indicate that the US central bank may go ahead with expected moves.
Oil traders will watch the June 4 meeting of OPEC+. The group in April announced a surprise production cut of 1.16 million barrels per day, but resulting price gains have been erased, and crude is trading below pre-cut levels.
Reports showed that OPEC+ could also be debating an additional oil production cut among possible options.
According to Reuters, three OPEC+ sources said cuts were being discussed among options for Sunday. The sources said cuts could amount to 1 million barrels per day on top of existing cuts of 2 million barrels per day and voluntary cuts of 1.6 million barrels per day that were announced in a surprise move in April.
The oil ministers of the 23-nation alliance will gather at 2 p.m. in Vienna (1 p.m. Nigerian time). Before then, OPEC ministers will meet at 11 a.m. (10 a.m.) on Saturday.
On the demand side, manufacturing data out of China, the world’s second-biggest oil consumer, painted a mixed picture.
In the US, energy firms this week slashed the number of oil rigs operating by the most since September 2021, reducing the overall count for a fifth week in a row, energy services firm Baker Hughes Co. said.
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