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Banks face Senate probe

• Senators may grill OICs, others over $62bn alleged fraud

From Fred Itua, Abuja

The Senate may have commenced investigations of some banks over alleged collusion with International Oil Companies (IOCs) to defraud the country.

Over $62.9billion was said to have been taken out of the country under suspicious circumstances between August 2009 and December 2014.

The “investigation of the pre-shipment inspection of export activities in Nigeria” was being conducted by the Senate joint committee on Finance, Trade and Investment, Gas, Petroleum Upstream, Banking, insurance and other Financial Institutions, Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, and Customs and Excise.

A document obtained by Daily Sun showed that affected banks were asked to submit all copies of certified Nigeria Export Proceed (NXP) issued or processed by them in respect of all crude oil and gas exported by three oil companies and their affiliates between April 1996 and December, 2016.

Affected banks were also asked to submit all domiciliary accounts opened and or closed within the period specified for all crude oil and gas exported.

Two banks appeared before the investigative joint committee on Thursday while other banks said to be associated with the export of oil and gas were equally billed to appear.

A member of the committee, Senator Yusuf Yusuf (Taraba State), said the Senate wanted to know why funds brought into the country as oil export proceeds were wholly withdrawn a day after such proceeds were brought into the country.

He said the probe became necessary because the banks had the obligation under the law to ensure that petroleum products exporters did the right thing by obeying the guidelines and laws of the country.

He said: “It is worrisome that money comes in today, tomorrow the same amount goes out of the country. The practice runs through statement of account submitted by the banks. The oil companies bring in $20 billion today, tomorrow $20 billion is taken out from the account.

“The banks are colluding with multi-national oil companies to defraud the country. The government relies on the banks, the banks are now colluding with the multi-national oil companies.”

He noted that it was obvious that the country was not getting the correct export proceeds from oil and gas exports. The lawmaker who insisted that banks must abide by the law said it was worrisome that no indications were made about who paid for oil exports.

He said the committee wanted to know why the same oil company that exported products was the same company that paid for it without indication of who actually bought the products and the corresponding bank.

Chairman of the joint committee, Senator John Enoh, said that the committee would also ensure that banks were not colluding with IOCs to flout the laws of the country.

He said the committee would take a critical look at the submissions made by the banks to come to terms with the true position of oil and gas exports proceeds processes.

One of the documents submitted to the committee showed that one of the affected banks operated multiple domiciliary proceeds accounts for the oil companies.

The committee resolved to go through documents submitted by the banks before coming up with its recommendations.

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