The House of Representatives’ Ad Hoc Committee on Assessment and Status of All Recovered Loots Movable and Immovable Assets from 2002 to 2020 by Agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria for Effective Efficient Management and Utilisation may soon invite the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), for ordering bank to convert revenue collected in dollars to naira before remittance.
A Deposit Money Bank, Keystone Bank, had told the committee that Malami instructed it to remit part of the $136m in its custody in naira while also determining the exchange rate, a revelation that the lawmakers criticised.
The Executive Director, North and Public Sector Directorate, Keystone Bank, Lawal Ahmed, at an investigative hearing by the committee in Abuja on Wednesday, told the lawmakers that the bank had remitted all the funds belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
In his presentation, Ahmed said, “Our position, as confirmed by the CFO of NNPC, was that we have remitted all the funds that were with us at our last meeting. You asked for clarification regarding some reversals from the statements of account, which we reviewed and confirmed that they were actually failed transactions.
“We are using NEFT. We sent the money; it reversed and it was sent again. So, it was showing in and out on the statements. It was part of the documents that we submitted.
You asked for where we got the rates and we provided the letter from the Attorney-General of the Federation directing us to make the payment and the rate with which to transfer. We also submitted that with our letter.”
The Chairman of the committee, Adejoro Adeogun, asked how much Keystone was supposed to return to the NNPC. The representative said the total figure established by the AGF was $136,676,600.51.
Giving a breakdown of the figure, Ahmed said, “Out of this entire amount, we paid in $96m in United States dollar and we paid the equivalent of $40m in naira. That was the directive by the Attorney-General at the rate of N305 to a dollar. The schedule is also attached.”
However, Adeogun noted that the $136m was supposed to be for Brass LNG Investment Account “but when you were paying, you paid into a different account.”
Responding, Ahmed said, “We were paying into the Brass LNG’s NNPC account in the TSA and at the time the Attorney-General gave the directive, he instructed that the funds be credited to the FGN Assets Recovery Account.”
Adeogun presented a letter the committee obtained from the CBN on the transactions to the Keystone Bank representative, saying the figures did not tally.
After reading the document, Ahmed argued that there were no discrepancies in the exchange rates as recorded in the CBN and Keystone’s documents.
“The first item, which is N12,421,794,504.88 is the equivalent of $40m at N305, which was directed to the FGN Assets Recovery Account. There were two accounts: there was the Brass LNG and there was OML 40. At the time this (AGF) letter was written, I believe that we had not concluded payment yet. The final payments were made thereafter in tranches,” he said.
A member of the committee, Olanrewaju Edun, who was visibly angry, said, “Out of the $40m that you claimed that the Attorney-General gave you a letter. As far as I am concerned, I don’t know why you have to take a letter from the Attorney-General. This is Nigeria’s money owned by the three tiers of government. We can take you up on that.”
While Ahmed asked Keystone if the bank should disregard a letter from the AGF, Edun said “that is contentious” and that the committee would get to the issue.