CBN Investigator Uncovers 593 Accounts ‘Opened’ By Emefiele In UK, US, China
The Special Investigator appointed by President Bola Tinubu has accused the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, of opening 593 foreign bank accounts without approval of either President Muhammadu Buhari or the apex bank’s board of directors, documents obtained by Daily Trust have shown.
Details in the documents showed that the accounts are in different banks in the United Kingdom (UK), United States (USA) and China.
Even though the findings have not been officially made public, it was learnt that the revelation was part of the report submitted to President Tinubu on Wednesday, December 20, 2023.
Recall that Tinubu had on June 9, 2023 suspended Emefiele from office and was thereafter picked by security operatives. He has remained in custody since then.
And on July 30, the president named the Chief Executive Officer of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria, Jim Obazee, as the special investigator of the CBN.
In the letter dated July 28, 2023, the president asked Obazee to investigate CBN and key government business entities, adding that the investigator would report directly to the president’s office.
The letter read, “In accordance with the fundamental objective set forth in Section 15(5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), this administration is, today, continuing (with) the fight against corruption by appointing you as a Special Investigator, to investigate the CBN and Related Entities. This appointment shall be with immediate effect and you are to report directly to my office.”
The documents indicated that two reports have been submitted to President Tinubu so far, with the latest one dated December 20, detailing chargeable offences committed by Emefiele and others.
In addition to the ousted CBN governor, the document also recommended prosecuting some top officials of the CBN who worked with Emefiele, and others from outside the apex bank, for various offences.
The illegal foreign accounts
One of the documents seen by our reporter stated that Emefiele had allegedly invested Nigeria’s money in 593 foreign accounts without authorisation.
“All the accounts where the billions were lodged have been traced by the investigator,” it said.
“In the UK alone, Emefiele kept £543, 482,213 in fixed deposits, without authorisation by the CBN board and the investment committee of the bank.
“The investigator has recommended Emefiele for trial over the illegal lodgements and also utilising the funds for what they were not meant…”
It said various amounts running into billions of US dollars and Chinese Yuan were also allegedly traced to the accounts opened by Emefiele.
Before the latest findings, our correspondent reports that on July 25, Emefiele was arraigned on a two-count charge bordering on “illegal possession” of firearms and was granted bail in the sum of N20 million.
In 2022, the Department of State Service (DSS) alleged that Emefiele had been financing terrorism, among other allegations.
Some of the allegations against Emefiele came to the surface at a time he was being accused of partisan politics, including purported plan to contest for the presidency on the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC).
On November 17, the Federal Capital Territory High Court remanded Emefiele in Kuje prison on the ground of alleged procurement fraud.
The federal government had initially preferred 20 charges on procurement fraud to the tune of N6.5bn against the former CBN governor, but the charges were reduced to six to the tune of over N1bn before he was arraigned.
Through his lawyers, the former CBN governor had on all occasions denied the allegations levelled against him.
Other infractions uncovered
Daily Trust reports that from the fresh findings submitted to President Tinubu on Wednesday, the last might not have been heard about issues that pitch Emefiele against the federal government.
Other alleged offences the special investigator said Emefiele and others should be tried for include the naira redesign policy which findings revealed had subjected Nigerians and the economy to great distress.
“Emefiele took the redesign, a mere change of colour to De La Rue in UK for a fee of £205,000; and only N1,000, N500, and N200 were ‘redesigned,” the document said.
It added that, “As of August 2023, N769 billion of the new notes were in circulation. The printing cost was N61.5 billion, out of which N31.79 billion has been paid.”
Other areas Tinubu was asked to prosecute Emefiele on are the N1.7 billion spent as “questionable” legal fees in respect to the printing of the money, the ways and means spending totalling N26.627 billion; the COVID-19 expenditure amounting to N1.622trn; and other intervention programmes.
It is not clear when the full details of the findings would be made public.
Some sources close to President Tinubu, who spoke in confidence, confirmed that the second report had been submitted to the president.
“The president has said again and again that the CBN prosecutor will have all the support he requires to do a diligent job that will be acceptable to Nigerians,” one of them said.