Senate Hires Forensic Experts to Unravel Alleged Repatriation of $13.9 billion

  • MTN, Enelamah, others appear before committee today
  • Minister writes committee, says accusation is false

By Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja

As MTN and Minister of Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, appear before the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions today over alleged repatriation of $13.9 billion, the Senate has engaged the services of both foreign and local forensic experts to help it in unravelling the truth behind the allegation.

Also expected to appear before the committee at the commencement of today’s investigative hearing are the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN), Standard Chartered Bank, Citibank, Diamond Bank and Stanbic IBTC.

Others are Ahmed Dasuki, Babatunde Folawiyo, Victor Odili, Dr. Pascal Dozie and Colonel Bello Sani, among others. They are all expected to explain their roles in the entire exercise.

These guests were alleged to have breached the provisions of Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous) Act over the manner of the transfer of the money out of the country.

Briefing journalists ahead of the investigative hearing yesterday, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions, Rafiu Ibrahim, disclosed that the Senate had engaged forensic experts to assist it unravelling the mystery behind the mystique.

According to him, the allegation against MTN, Enelamah and others is weighty and hence, required the services of experts to help the committee get to the root of the matter.

However, ahead of his appearance before the committee, Enelamah had sent a memorandum to the committee where he denied allegations made by Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi West) that he was a Director of MTN and also owned shares in the telecommunications company.

Enelamah who explained the reason he could not appear before the committee on October 12 as initially scheduled, said he neither owned Celtelecom neither did he have any direct shares in MTN nor reap any dividends from it as alleged by Melaye.

He said: “Owing to an official travel with the President Muhammadu Buhari in the week, I am unable to be present before the committee on the said date and crave the kind understanding of the committee to use this medium to present some pertinent facts. l have read the letter and the attachments. I believe it is needful for me to clarity as follows: l was never appointed as a Director of MTN at any time; l have never held any share directly in MTN since inception to date and; in consequence of (2) above, I have never earned any dividend directly from MTN shares.

“It is also pertinent to point out that l was never the ‘owner’ of Celtelecom Investment Limited (‘Celtelecom’) or a shareholder in Celtelecom as recorded on pages 402 and 403 of the votes and proceedings of the Senate of September 27, 2016.

“Between 1998 and 2015, I served as the Chief Executive Officer of Capital Alliance Nigeria Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of African Capital Alliance (ACA). ACA is a leading pan-African investment firm sponsoring funds and managing investments in Sub-Saharan Africa. Two firms managed by ACA together with some individuals and entities invested in MTN. With Celtelecom as the investment vehicle, I served as a director of Celtelecom representing the ACA managed funds.

According to him, “Contrary to the record on page 403 of the Votes and Proceedings of the Senate of  September 27, 2016, I have never claimed that l invested in MTN on February  7, 2008 neither did l obtain a Certificate of Capital Importation on February 7, 2008. The investment by Celtelecom in MTN was made in 2001. The Form A dated February 7, 2008,  that l signed in my capacity as a director of Celtelecom was to enable the processing of payments due from the sale of part of its shares in MTN as evidenced by the letter to lBTC Chartered Bank Plc dated February 7, 2008.

“It is also important to note that investors do not have responsibility for the remittance of proceeds from the company they invested in. Therefore, at no time was I ever in a position to transfer funds out of Nigeria on behalf of MTN, and at no time did I transfer any funds out of Nigeria on behalf of MTN. I trust that you will give the above necessary consideration as you conduct your investigations,” the minister said.