Keystone Bank is under investigation even as House moves to invite Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, ENigeria Newspaper reports.
The House of Representatives’ Ad Hoc Committee on Assessment and Status of All Recovered Loots Movable and Immovable Assets from 2002 to 2020 by Agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria for Effective Efficient Management and Utilisation may soon invite the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), to order that revenue collected in dollars be converted to naira before remittance, ENigeria Newspaper learnt.
During the probe, a Deposit Money Bank, Keystone Bank, told the House Committee that Malami asked it to remit part of the $136 million in its custody in naira while also determining the exchange rate, a disclosure that the legislators slammed.
During an investigative hearing by the committee in Abuja on Wednesday, Lawal Ahmed, the Executive Director, North and Public Sector Directorate, Keystone Bank, told the MPs that the bank had remitted all funds owing to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
“Our stance, as validated by the CFO of NNPC, was that we had remitted all the funds that were with us at our last meeting,” Ahmed stated in his presentation. You inquired for clarity on several reversals on your bank statements, which we looked into and found were truly failed transactions.
“We make use of NEFT.” We sent the money, which was then reversed and sent again. As a result, it appeared in and out on the statements. It was included in the materials we supplied.
“You inquired where we got the rates, therefore we sent you the letter from the Attorney-General of the Federation directing us to make the payment and the transfer rate.” We included that in our letter as well.”
Adejoro Adeogun, the committee’s chairman, inquired as to how much Keystone was meant to refund to the NNPC. The entire amount established by the AGF, according to the spokesperson, was $136,676,600.51.
“Out of this full sum, we paid in $96 million in US dollars, and we paid the equivalent of $40 million in naira,” Ahmed explained. At a rate of N305 to a dollar, that was the Attorney-directive. General’s “I’ve also attached the schedule.”
However, Adeogun pointed out that the $136 million was supposed to go to the Brass LNG Investment Account, but “you paid into a separate account when you were paying.”
“We were paying into the Brass LNG’s NNPC account at the TSA at the time the Attorney-General gave the directive, and he instructed that the cash be credited to the FGN Assets Recovery Account,” Ahmed responded.
Adeogun provided the Keystone Bank representative with a letter from the CBN on the transactions, stating that the statistics did not add up.
After reading the document, Ahmed claimed that the exchange rates recorded in the CBN and Keystone documents were identical.
“The first item, N12,421,794,504.88 (equal to $40 million in N305), was directed to the FGN Assets Recovery Account. There were two accounts: the Brass LNG account and the OML 40 account.
I assume we had not yet completed payment at the time this (AGF) letter was written. Following that, the last payments were made in installments,” he explained.
“Out of the $40 million that you claimed, the Attorney-General issued you a letter,” said a clearly enraged member of the committee, Olanrewaju Edun. In my opinion, there is no reason why you should accept a letter from the Attorney-General. This is the money of Nigeria, which is held by the three levels of government. We’ll gladly accept your offer.”
While Ahmed questioned Keystone if the bank should ignore an AGF letter, Edun said that “that is contentious” and that the committee will address the matter.
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