Enelamah Denies Involvement in Illicit Money Transfers on Behalf of MTN

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Obinna Chima

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, has distanced himself from the allegation by the Senate that he was involved in the fraudulent repatriation of $13.92 billion in collusion with MTN Nigeria Limited, without authorisation.

In a statement last night, the minister who said he welcomed any investigation  the Senate might decide to carry out on the matter, said all the allegations made by the upper legislative chamber were without merit and baseless.

The Senate on Tuesday opened the probe into the alleged fraudulent repatriation of $13.92 billion from Nigeria by the minister.

According to the Senate, MTN, in collaboration with the minister, exploited the porous Nigerian financial system by illegally moving the money out of the country. It had also said MTN smartly beat the Nigeria’s financial regulatory laws by failing to obtain a certificate of capital importation, which would have authorised it to move capital into Nigeria from its South African bankers, Standard Chartered Bank, as authorised by the law within 24 hours.

The Senate further alleged that MTN was incorporated in Nigeria in 2000 as a private liability company and eventually obtained its operating licence with the sum of $284,906,275.89 on February 6, 2001 but failed to bring capital into Nigeria as required, adding that when it eventually moved in $117.6 billion between 2001 and 2003, it did so in three tranches.

But the statement by the Director Press, Federal Ministry Investment, Trade and Industry, Mr. Greyne Anosike explained: “Our attention has been drawn to a statement credited to a serving Nigerian Senator on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday September 27, 2016, making a number of allegations against the egarding improper remittance of funds out of Nigeria. We are compelled to make clear the following:
“Enelamah served as the CEO of Capital Alliance Nigeria Limited (CANL) between 1998 and 2015.  CANL is a wholly owned subsidiary of African Capital Alliance (ACA), an Africa focused private equity firm with investments in carefully selected companies within and outside Nigeria, including MTN Nigeria.

“A fund managed by ACA, alongside other minority shareholders, invested in MTN Nigeria through Celtelecom. Dr Enelamah was never the “owner” of Celtelecom as alleged by the Senator; neither was he ever a Celtelecom shareholder. Instead he was a director of the company, representing the ACA managed fund.

“Investors do not have responsibility for remittance of proceeds from the company they are invested in. Therefore, at no time was Dr. Enelamah in a position to transfer funds out of Nigeria on behalf of MTN Nigeria, and at no time did Dr. Enelamah transfer any funds out of Nigeria on behalf of MTN Nigeria. As it relates to Celtelecom’s investment in MTN Nigeria, it is important to note that the entire process for applying for and using CCIs was done by MTN Nigeria.

“Enelamah resigned all his board positions, including from the ACA and Celtelecom consequent to his appointment as a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
On its part, Standard Chartered Bank said it would fully cooperate with all law enforcement agencies and comply with all laws and regulations on the matter.

“We are working with the relevant authorities to address and resolve their enquiries. As this case is currently under investigation, you will appreciate that we cannot provide any further information. We remain absolutely committed to all our stakeholders in Nigeria and we ensure that our processes and procedures adhere to the highest levels of corporate governance and controls. The bank is making every possible effort to ensure a rapid and satisfactory outcome of this matter,” a statement from the international bank added.