Presidential panel uncovers NNPC’s dollar accounts, asks bank to remit $2m proceeds into TSA

The Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property has uncovered eight-dollar accounts and other naira accounts said to be kept by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) with the Ecobank Plc.

The correspondences obtained by The PUNCH on Sunday show that the panel, through its chairman, Mr Okoi Obono-Obla, has written to the bank demanding the remittance of close to $2m proceeds in the eight separate dollar accounts into the Federal Government’s Treasury Single Account.

The panel’s letter dated May 22, 2019 was addressed to the Managing Director of the bank.

It stated that specifically, a total sum of $1,966,195.38 required to be remitted to the TSA was arrived at following the “final reconciliation” meeting held on May 14, 2019.

It read in part, “Arising from the resolution of our final reconciliation meeting of May 14, 2019 and subsequent correspondences with your bank on the above subject matter, I wish to request that ECOBANK PLC pay the agreed sum of one million, nine hundred and sixty-six thousand, one hundred and ninety-five dollars, 38 cents only ($1,966,195.38) to the SPIP TSA Recovery account with the Central Bank of Nigeria.”

Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) headquarters in Abuja.

The panel gave the name of the account into which the money should be remitted as ‘Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation Special Presidential Investigation Panel (Recovery) TSA’ kept with the Central Bank of Nigeria.

“Kindly note that you are to forward the payment advice to this office within 48 hours of receipt of this notice,” the panel’s letter added.

Responding to the demand, ECOBANK through a letter dated May 28, 2019, did not dispute the amount of fund demanded by the SPIPRPP but gave two reasons it could not remit any fund into the TSA as requested by the panel

The letter signed on behalf of the bank by its Chief Executive Audit, Felix Igbinosa and Executive Director, Corporate Group, Dayo Akintayo, noted that the panel’s notice was lacking in the breakdown detailing the components of the fund demanded.

The bank’s second reason was that it had a pending suit concerning NNPC’s alleged indebtedness to it, as a result of which the matter had been rendered ‘sub-judice’.

The letter read in part, “First and foremost, we would like to express our gratitude to the panel for the generally cordial manner in which the reconciliation exercise was conducted.

“However, we would like to draw your attention to the following:

“1. The Demand Notice does not contain a breakdown (account by account) detailing components of the USD $1,966,195.38 demand. Given the fact that a number of accounts were reconciled during our meetings, this level of detail is necessary, so as to allow the bank to close its audit books in an orderly fashion.

“It is also imperative for the bank to be able to pass on the proper information regarding each of the reconciled accounts to the Central Bank of Nigeria in the course of mandatory financial reporting.

“2. The bank and NNPC are currently involved in litigation before the Federal High Court regarding the latter’s indebtedness to the bank, per suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/839/17 Ecobank Nigeria Ltd v NNPC & Anor (copy of writ/statement of claim attached for ease of reference).

“As such, the matter remains sub-judice; and we are not in a position to remit any funds to your indicated account in respect of NNPC’s accounts until final determination of the referenced suit. This matter was brought to the attention of the panel at the first reconciliation meeting and document to this effect was forwarded.”

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