Breaking News: CSNAC petitions EFCC, seeks probe of MTN, others over alleged illegal repatriation of revenue
The Civil Society Network Against Corruption, which is a coalition of over 150 anti-corruption organization with the aim of constructively combating corruption in Nigeria, has urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to investigate the alleged illegal repatriation of export revenue by communication giant company, MTN, and its collaborators.
In a petition forwarded to the EFCC and signed by CSNAC’s Chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju, the Network said the anti-graft commission should cause an investigation into the matter with a view to enforcing the return of the funds illegally repatriated to the Federal Government of Nigeria as the Foreign Exchange Manual stipulates.
The petition reads: “Our network was pleased to read on the pages of newspapers the action of the Central Bank of Nigeria with sanctions imposed on the company (MTN) and banks allegedly for unlawful operations and violation of our financial system.
“The sanction, according to reports, was as a result of forensic analysis of all the available certificates of capital importation (CCIs) and foreign exchange documentations for remittances and (or) repatriation of dividends to offshore corporate shareholders of MTN Communication Nigeria Ltd, with a view to tracing and recovering illegal remittances.
“Some experts, financial analysts and lawyers have analysed a draft of the Investigation Report on the Alleged Depletion of Nigeria External Reserves by MTN, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Standard Chartered Bank in collaboration with CBN Officials and allegedly found, from their analysis, that the underlisted ten (10) individuals and corporate entities were implicated in the forgery and/or production of false CCIs to the Central Bank of Nigeria and the foreign exchange market contrary to Section 29 (1)(d) of the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous) Provisions Act Cap. F34 LFN, 2004 and punishable under sections 29(2) (b), (4) and 31.
“These corporate entities are: Standard Chartered Nigeria Limited; Citibank Nigeria Limited; Stanbic-IBTC Ltd; MTN Communications Nigeria Limited.”
CSNAC gave further breakdown in the petition as follows: “The particulars of alleged 2 breaches by Standard Chartered Bank (SCBL), Citibank Nigeria Limited (CNL), and Stanbic IBTC Ltd (SIL) are as follows:
“Particulars of alleged SCBL’s Breach:
“SCBL issued and (or) reissued a total of 110 CCIs to MTN from 2001 to 2015. 79 CCIs out of the 110 CCIs, breached the above statutory provisions and were thus irregularly issued. SCBL used and (or) caused to be used 57 out of the 79 CCIs irregularly issued to MTN to remit a total of $10, 889, 534, 833 (USD) to MTN’s offshore corporate shareholders. Out of this total sum, SIL used 16 irregular CCIs to remit the sum of $936, 017, 236. 89 (USD) to eight (8) MTN offshore corporate shareholders.
“Diamond Bank Plc used 9 irregular CCIs to remit the total sum of $336, 426, 858. 26 to nine (9) MTN offshore corporate shareholders.
“SCBL indemnified SIL and Diamond Plc for losses and (or) liability that may arise from the use of these CCIs.
“SCBL conduct is contravention 6 contained in the Foreign Exchange Manual, namely that the foreign exchange in the sum of $10, 889, 534, 833.00 (USD) sold to and (or) sourced from the market by SCBL, SIL and Diamond Bank Plc and remitted to MTN’s offshore corporate shareholders, was used for non-eligible purposes.”
It also listed particulars of CNL’s breach as: “On 6 February 2008, CNL transferred seven (7) CCIs (Nos. 010357, 010358, 010081, 010079, 010218, 010203, and 010219) which it had issued to MTN shareholders, to SCBL. On the same date, Diamond Bank Plc transferred three (3) CCIs (Nos. 0205156, 0205154 and 0205155), which it had issued to MTN shareholders, to SCBL. SCBL cancelled and combined the ten (10) CCIs with 29 CCIs it had issued to MTN shareholders to realise a total of 39 CCIs. SCBL replaced the 39 CCIs with 20 new CCIs.
“However, 24 out of the SCBL’s 29 CCIs had been irregularly issued to nine (9) MTN shareholders which received 18 out of the 20 new CCIs. The 18 CCIs are therefore deemed to have been issued irregularly.
“In 17 transactions between 3 September 2009 and 26 May 2015, CNL repeatedly used three (3) of the 7 CCIs (Nos. 010358, 010081, 010079) which CNL bank had hitherto transferred to and cancelled by SCBL on 6 February 2008, and the replacement irregular CCIs No. 016171 (CM. No. 080025) to remit a total of $1, 766, 263, 212. 75 (USD) to MTN International Mauritius Limited.
“In nine (9) transactions between 5 December 2007 and 2 October 2008, CNL repeatedly used nine (9) of the above mentioned 18 irregularly issued CCIs (Nos. 016154, 016156, 016170, 016140, 016159, 016157, 016163, 016141 and 016171) to sell and transfer a total of $535, 000, 000. 00 (USD) to SCBL for purported remittance to MTN offshore corporate shareholders.
“CNL’s conduct is contravention 6 contained in the Foreign Exchange Manual, namely that the foreign exchange in the total sum of $2, 301, 263, 212. 75 (USD) sold to and (or) sourced from the money market by CNL for purposes of remittances to MTN’s offshore corporate shareholders, was used for non-eligible purposes.
“Particulars of SIL’s Breach:
“SIL under-reported the total number of CCIs issued to MTN. SIL reported 13 CCIs valued at $52, 887, 494 (USD). Documents obtained from SIL in the course of the investigation directed by the Office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minster of Justice showed that SIL issued a total of 225 CCIs for various amounts totaling $999, 560,000 (USD).
“SIL issued 35 CCIs out of the 225 CCIs to local MTN shareholders who remitted share purchase money in United States dollars sourced from Nigeria, to SIL’s Deutsche Bank account in New York. A CCI is issued for capital imported into Nigeria and not for capital sourced and exported from Nigeria. Accordingly, the 35 CCIs breached Section 15 of the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1995 and Memoranda 20 (3) (vi) (d) and 22 of the Foreign Exchange Manual.
“SIL only sought 9 CBN approvals for a total of 185 CCIs issued to MTN for importation of equipment and machines because all the 185 CCIs were not issued within the 24 hours stipulated under Section 15 and Memorandum 22 above. Accordingly, the 9 approvals were granted in error and SIL irregularly issued the 185 CCIs.
“SIL issued 5 CCIs to MTN for equity inflows. The issuance of these CCIs did not also comply with Section 15 and Memorandum 22 for similar reason stated in the preceding paragraph. Accordingly, SIL irregularly issued the 5 CCIs to MTN.
“SIL’s foregoing conducts implicate submission of false returns and production of false CCIs with a view to utilizing these CCIs to remit foreign exchange to individuals and corporate entities outside Nigeria.
“We request, respectfully, that your Commission should cause an investigation into this matter with a view to enforcing the return of the funds illegally repatriated to the Federal Government of Nigeria as the Foreign Exchange Manual stipulates and prosecuting the persons and institutions accordingly under existing laws.”