Goodnews: Central Bank recovers N140bn from banks under probe

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The Senate Joint Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariffs; and Marine Transport on Wednesday claimed that it had recovered over N140bn from banks and companies following its probe into the alleged loss of N30tn in Nigeria’s import and export value chain.

It said the recovered funds had been deposited with the Central Bank of Nigeria.

This was contained in an interim report by the panel, which the Senate considered and adopted at its plenary on Wednesday.

The probe followed the adoption of a motion titled, ‘Urgent Need to Examine the Operations of the Nigeria Customs Service Revenue Drive’ on November 15, 2016.

The Senate had specifically mandated the committee to carry out a holistic investigation into the activities of the service “with a view to identify the leakages and irregularities as well as the causes of the declining revenue profile of the service and come up with recommendations that will reinvigorate the revenue of the Nigeria Customs Service.”

In the report presented by its Chairman, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, the panel said some banks had remitted N128bn to the CBN, while some of the 60 companies investigated made voluntary payments of N12bn into Federal Government’s coffers.

The panel said, “As a result of this exercise, some collection banks have made additional remittances to the Central Bank of Nigeria to the tune of N128bn and evidence of payment and receipt has been received by the committee.

“From the selected 60 companies, over N12bn payments have been made to the government voluntarily by the companies based on their internal self-audit after receiving documented evidence of their culpability from our committee.

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“It is instructive to note that despite all the payments so far made, none of the approved collection banks or the selected companies has fully cleared the established liabilities against them.”

The committee however asked for additional eight weeks to carry out its investigations, saying the banks and companies currently under investigation represented less than one per cent of the entire import and export value chain.

The panel listed 32 “leakage channels” it identified as the “major sources of revenue losses” in the import and export business.

It said, “These infractions within the system disproportionately distort the economic profile of the country and place extensive pressure on the nation’s scarce foreign exchange.

“It also negates all Central Bank of Nigeria initiated foreign exchange management plans. This is because a distorted forex requirement does not essentially reflect the actual forex needs of individuals and businesses in the country.

“This situation benefits only the purveyors of capital flight from the country and adds absolutely no value to the nation.”

The Majority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio, urged the lawmakers to give the committee more time to carry out the probe, considering the amount of money it claimed to have recovered.

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