EFCC Finds $86m Paris Club Refund In NGF’s Account
More cash believed to be part of the London-Paris Club loan refund has been found by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The US$86,546,526.65 was remitted into the account of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF). The account is said to have been depleted to about $17million as at the time the probe started.
The EFCC is probing how the cash got into the account, who remitted it and for what purpose. “The cash was paid into the forum’s domiciliary account in GTB tagged: 0023577047 with sort code 058083215,” the source said, adding that the payment followed a November 21, 2016 memo on the remittance into the NGF’s account which was titled “Consultants fee”. The cash was described as consultancy and legal fees as the case with the N19 billion which was allegedly diverted from the refund. “This development has justified the earlier peg of our investigation that the part of the London-Paris Club loan refunds was paid into two accounts of the NGF” the source said, pleading not to be named because he has no authority to talk to the media. “Operatives are tracking how the $86.5m was used and for what purpose. We want to know whether the affected financial and legal consultants exist or not.” The Nation had exclusively reported that the Presidency was uncomfortable with how some governors managed the refund.
The Federal Government released N522.74 billion to 35 states as refund of over-deductions on London-Paris Club loans.
President Muhammadu Buhari directed the release of the refund to enable states to pay salaries and pensions.
But more than N19billion of the refund has been enmeshed in controversy over payment of consultancy fees. Some consultants were yet to be paid as at press time.
Some of the infractions noticeable in the management of the first tranche of the London-Paris Club loan refund are: • computation of state records done at a private home in Maitama, Abuja; • accounts initially opened in the names of two lead consultants but the details of who to be paid were later changed. N19b remitted into two NGF accounts;
commission to consultants cut from 10% to 2% but 5% was on paper as paid; • the CBN paid directly to each state without the knowledge of the Accountant-General of the Federation; and part of the N19b commission was traced to a governor’s account and some individuals, including some members of the National Assembly.
It was also discovered that besides the central consultants, governors hired other consultants, with some conceding about 10-20% commission to them.
In some states, governors served as consultants through proxies.
Some consultants are yet to be paid because the NGF changed the commission formula as soon as the first tranche was remitted, The Nation learnt.
Besides, some governors deviated from using 25 per cent to 50 per cent for payment of outstanding salaries and pension as agreed with President Buhari.