Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions has scheduled October 20 for an open probe of MTN and Minister of Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, over an alleged illegal repatriation of $13.92 billion out of the country between 2006 and 2016.
The Senate had on September 27, 2016 alleged that Enelamah connived with MTN to exploit the porous Nigerian financial system to move the money out of the country without authorisation.
The parliament further alleged that MTN smartly beat 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 Bank, as authorised by the law within 24 hours.
It further alleged that the repatriation was done through four banks, viz: Standard Chartered Bank, Stanbic IBTC, Diamond Bank and Citi Bank.
Consequently, the Senate mandated its Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions to probe the minister, MTN, the banks and other Nigerians said to have benefitted from the deal.
Against this background, the committee has summoned MTN, Enelamah, Col. Sani Bello, Chairman of Diamond Bank, Dr. Pascal Dozie and Ahmed Dasuki.
Also expected at the investigative hearing are Gbenga Oyebode, Babatunde Folawiyo and Victor Odili.
The Senate while debating the matter on September 27, had disclosed 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.
It described the action as a sheer violation of the law authorising capital importation within 24 hours.
The breakdown of how the money was repatriated through the four banks, as alleged by the Senate are Stanbic IBTC – $4.87 billion; Standard Chartered Bank – $5.72 billion; Citi Bank – $2.98 billion and Diamond Bank – $0.35 billion, pointing out that the repatriation was done in violation of Memorandum 22 of the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous) Act, 1995.