House C’ttee, AGF to Collaborate on Repatriation of $458m Looted Funds

0

• Frowns at indiscriminate ATM charges by banks
Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
The House of Representatives yesterday mandated its Committee on Justice to liaise with the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mr. Abubakar Malami to collaborate to ensure the repatriation of $458 million looted funds forfeited to the United States.

The committee and the AGF would be expected to interface with the US Congress and Department of Justice.
The resolution followed a motion sponsored by Hon. .Ehiozuwa Agbonayinma (Edo PDP) who noted that the $458 million was forfeited to the US by a judgment of the District Court for the District of Colombia in 2013, out of the sum of $550 million.

The District Court had hinged the forfeiture on the basis that there was no credible claim for the assets, the lawmaker noted.
He added that the country is at risk of losing another N218 billion looted funds domiciled in 14 international accounts across banks, fund administrators and traceable assets to Property Corporations.

Agbonayinma recalled that in August 2014, several properties were discovered to have been purchased from the proceeds of corruption, following asset tracing by the US Justice department in alliance with its counterparts in France and the United Kingdom.

$168 million was confiscated through the asset tracing and returned to victim nations, Agbonayinma said.
In another development, the House frowned at the disregard of the policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria regarding the N65 charge on Automated Teller Machine withdrawal.
The apex bank’s policy stipulates that N65 should be deducted after the fourth monthly ATM withdrawal on a non issuing bank’s machine.

Banks have however been reported to commence the charge from the first withdrawal, the House said.
Hon. Tajudeen Yusuf (Kogi PDP) wondered why the CBN is yet to sanction the erring banks.

“Banks do not comply with the CBN directive which makes the first three withdrawals in other banks’ ATM free. Due to poor networking facility driving the Transmission backbone of the ATM data which leads to constant system glitches, many customers often times do withdrawals in machines belonging to other banks,” Yusuf said.

“As a result of the usage of other banks’ ATMs customers lose money due to N65 charges on every transaction. The CBN being the regulatory body of banks has not taken any reasonable and punitive measure to sanction banks engaged in this sharp practice of N65 deduction from customers,” the lawmaker said.