TSA: NNPC, banks deny concealing FG’s $793.2m

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Oyetunji Abioye and Okechukwu Nnodim

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation on Friday reacted to reports that it colluded with some banks to prevent the remittance of $793.2m into the Treasury Single Account as directed by the Federal Government.

Its Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Ndu Ughamadu, in a statement issued in Abuja, stated that the allegation was not only misplaced but equally misleading.

The Federal High Court in Lagos had on Thursday ordered seven commercial banks to temporarily remit a total of $793.2m allegedly hidden by them for the oil firm and its subsidiary in contravention of the Federal Government’s Treasury Single Account policy.

According to the court, the concerned banks are United Bank for Africa Plc, Diamond Bank Plc, Skye Bank Plc, First Bank Limited, Fidelity Bank Plc, Keystone Bank Limited and Sterling Bank Plc.

But Ughamadu said the corporation had earlier taken steps to inform the Presidency, Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation and the Central Bank of Nigeria on the existence of the said accounts prior to the creation of the TSA.

The NNPC said it would be totally out of place to move the funds to the government’s asset recovery account as reported, noting that it was unreasonable and sheer waste of funds to pay any agent five per cent whistle-blowing fee for the phantom recovery of genuine funds belonging to it and which had been disclosed to the Presidency, CBN and other relevant stakeholders.

Providing further breakdown on the lodgements, the NNPC said the amount included $174.4m domiciled at Diamond Bank, $40.7m in Skye Bank and $16.7m in Keystone Bank, bringing the total to $231.8m.

It stated that in line with the directive of the Presidency, the CBN was supervising the remittance of these funds to the TSA and it had made great strides in this regard.

The NNPC noted that as an entity with fiduciary responsibility to the government and people of the country, its commitment to transparency and accountability remained unwavering.

Meanwhile, the United Bank for Africa Plc said on Friday that it had fully remitted all the NNPC/Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Limited dollar deposits since August 24, 2016.

The pan-African lender stated that none of such funds was currently in its books, noting that the CBN had in a memo published in its website cleared it.

UBA, in a statement by the Head, Marketing and Corporate Communications, Bola Atta, said, “We wish to state categorically that UBA has fully remitted all NNPC/NLNG dollar deposits since August 24, 2016. We hereby emphasise that none of such funds is currently in the bank’s books. Our action was further corroborated by a clearance memo published by the CBN on its website on same date.”

This came just as Skye Bank Plc denied concealing funds meant to be transferred to the TSA.

Skye Bank, in a statement on Friday by the Head, Strategic Brand Management and Communications, Mr. Nduneche Ezurike, said, “It was alleged that the sum of N41m is illegally kept in a NAPIMS fixed deposit account with Skye Bank in collusion with government officials. The management of Skye Bank hereby states that it neither colluded nor unilaterally hid the reported sum or any other funds in its custody.

“On the contrary, the said funds are held with the full knowledge of the relevant agencies of the government, including the Central Bank of Nigeria, the DSS, the National Assembly and the Inspector General of Police’s Special Investigation Panel, with whom we have engaged extensively over same.”

The lender informed all its stakeholders that it would not conduct itself in breach of the laws or policies of the government, including the TSA policy.

Sterling Bank and Fidelity Bank had on Thursday denied the allegation, while First Bank, Keystone Bank and Diamond Bank have yet to issue official responses.

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