HomeNewsEFCC Probes $347bn Forex Allocation to Firms in 10 Years

EFCC Probes $347bn Forex Allocation to Firms in 10 Years

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is investigating how at least $347bn was allocated to companies and individuals in Nigeria between January 2014 and June 2023.

The probe is part of the ongoing investigation into the alleged abuse of the foreign exchange allocations by the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele.

The EFCC has reportedly written to over 85 entities, including Dangote Group, the largest conglomerate in Africa, and some foreign firms operating in Nigeria, to provide documents supporting their forex transactions in the last 10 years.

The anti-graft agency has also summoned senior officials of the affected entities and asked them to provide detailed documents of their foreign exchange transactions covering the last 10 years.

Forex Scarcity and Illicit Flows

According to the CBN data analysed by The PUNCH, local and foreign companies in Nigeria got at least $347.49bn from the apex bank to service their foreign exchange needs and obligations within the 10-year period.

The data was contained in the sectoral utilisation of the CBN’s forex data, which reveals how foreign exchange is allocated and used across different sectors or industries of the economy.

The sectors that benefitted from forex allocation include industrial, food products, manufactured products, transport, agriculture, minerals, oil, communication, construction and related engineering, distribution, education, environment, financial, health and social services, tourism and travel, recreational, cultural, and sporting services.

Forex scarcity has plagued the Nigerian economy in recent years, with the CBN owing FX backlogs and more. This has led to the shutting down of many firms. About five multinationals have closed down operations, fully or partially, in the last 10 months.

One of the firms, Procter & Gamble, stated that it had become increasingly difficult to operate in Nigeria and create U.S dollar value.

The EFCC is also investigating some foreign firms for import and export violations, such as Crane Currency Limited, Gleseck+Deverint GmbH, De La Rue Ltd, Oberthur Fiduclaire SAS, and Orelll Fussli.

The authorities are conducting the probe to curb illicit financial flows and round-tripping, which harm the Nigerian economy and its foreign reserves.

A Special Investigator and a Presidential Order

A report from Jim Obazee, a Special Investigator on the CBN and Related Entities, triggered the EFCC probe in December 2023.

President Asiwaju Bola Tinubu appointed Obazee in July 2023 to investigate the apex bank and key Government Business Entities.

Obazee reportedly found evidence of forex malpractices estimated at $3.4bn and allegedly facilitated by Emefiele, who served as the CBN governor from 2014 to 2023.

Emefiele and his activities as the apex bank governor are currently under investigation by the EFCC. He may face an amended charge to include discoveries in the ongoing probe of forex transactions under his watch.

Aliko Dangote, owns Dangote Group, which denies any involvement in forex malpractices and says it is cooperating with the EFCC.

The firm said it sourced its forex from the interbank market, with all transactions supported by Letters of Credit in line with international standards.

It is unclear how soon the EFCC will end the forex allocation probe, which has raised concerns among the business community and the public.

However, some analysts have commended the EFCC for its efforts to ensure transparency and accountability in the forex market and to recover any looted funds from the perpetrators.

They also urged the government to implement policies that would boost the supply and stability of forex in the country and support the growth and development of the private sector.

Source: Punch 

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