Olam Denies $50bn Forex Fraud Allegations
By Adedapo Adesanya
Olam Group has denied allegations of $50 billion fraud in Nigeria and ordered a review into the matter.
In a filing to the Singapore Stock Exchange on Monday, the company categorically denied the allegations about Olam Nigeria and its subsidiaries and refuted all “baseless and inflammatory statements.”
The company noted that despite recent reports, there are no “fictitious Nigerian directors” in Olam Nigeria, and subsidiaries of the unit are audited by Ernst & Young Global’s member firm in the country.
It also clarified that Olam Group doesn’t have a “network of shell companies” as alleged.
The company’s board has directed the audit committee to conduct a review assisted by external counsel and auditors.
“Olam Nigeria has responded to and will continue to cooperate in relation to legitimate requests for information by the relevant Nigerian authorities,” the company said.
According to Bloomberg, the group’s shares closed 8.6 per cent lower in Singapore, the biggest daily decline since March 2020.
An exclusive report emerged last week that the Department of State Security (DSS) was investigating a “mega economic fraud involving Olam Nigeria Limited, Olam International, and their nine subsidiaries to the tune of over $50 billion.”
The report alleged that it was involved in a chain of round-tripping foreign exchange deals since 2015 through its Special Purpose Vehicles, SPVs, and had booked about $34 billion with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as capital importation at official rates.
Sources cited in the report seen by Business Post said the company round-tripped the forex and sold to businessmen, especially oil and gas marketers and industries such as Indorama and Fouani, at parallel market rates.
There were also allegations of fictitious Nigerians as directors, but said the accounts are solely managed by the Indian expatriates, some of whom are based in Europe and Asia.
It was said the company was named as part of a wider probe into the FX fraud and Anchors Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) deals that took place under the suspended governor of CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele.
Also reported were claims that Olam usually directed the forex buyers to lodge the naira equivalent into the account of one or many of its SPVs during the period under review, among others.