$13bn repatriation: Senate committee threatens sanctions against Minister
The Senate committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions has threatened to sanction the Minister of Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Elenemah for alleged improper conduct.
The chairman of the committee, Senator Rafiu Ibrahim issued the warning yesterday shortly after an investigative hearing on an alleged infraction in the repatriation of $13 billion involving the Mobile Telecommunication Network (MTN) and four banks.
The Minister had left the venue of the hearing before the commencement of the exercise without the permission of the committee, an action the committee chairman considered inappropriate.
Senator Ibrahim said, “The Minister should learn to be more civilized in his engagement with this committee, otherwise we shall invoke our powers to impose sanctions against him”.
In his address to the committee, the chairman of MTN, Dr. Pascal Dozie denied any infraction in all transactions involving the Certificate of Capital Importation (CCI) with the Central Bank (CBN)
of Nigeria, as alleged by the committee.
However, in his own address, the Chief Executive Officer of the MTN, Mr. Ferdi Moolman said the 24-hour time frame provided by the CBN for companies to obtain CCI in respect of offshore transactions was not practicable.
The Senate committee had accused the MTN of failure to comply with the rules guiding the CCI in most of its offshore transactions, citing an instance where MTN obtained CCI five years after concluding offshore transactions.
Officials of Stanbic IBTC, Standard Chartered Bank, Citi Bank and Diamond Bank also addressed the committee and explained their involvement in CCI transactions with the MTN.
None of the banks admitted any infractions in CCI transactions on behalf of the telecom giant.
Executive Secretary of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN), Mr. Jim Obaze who also addressed the committee said there were no reports of such infractions submitted to the FRCN, adding that if the Council would have acted on such reports if appropriately reported.
A representative of the CBN, Mr. Dauda Bature submitted to the committee a detailed report on the apex bank’s investigation on the matter that was earlier submitted to the Department of State Services (DSS).
A member of the Senate committee, Senator Bassey Albert said that whereas MTN invested $16 billion in Nigeria within 10 years, the company had repatriated $25 billion profit within the same period.
After submissions by the various individuals and corporate organsiations, the committee adjourned the hearing indefinitely.