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Forex scandal: Dangote officials summoned to Abuja as EFCC extends probe

EFCC

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has summoned some officials of the Dangote Group to Abuja to come along with detailed documents on foreign exchange transactions by the conglomerate covering the last nine years.

Operatives of the EFCC had on Thursday stormed the headquarters of Dangote Industries Limited in Ikoyi, Lagos, in furtherance of the ongoing investigation into the alleged abuse of the foreign exchange allocations by the immediate past governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele.

The anti-graft commission is probing the alleged preferential allocations of forex to the Dangote Group owned by billionaire Aliko Dangote and 51 other companies under the Emefiele-led CBN.

It was gathered on Friday that the operatives carted away some documents from the group’s head office on Thursday, but they did not cover all the transactions, hence the decision to summon the officials to bring the documents to Abuja on Tuesday.

Dangote was not in Nigeria when the operatives of the commission stormed the headquarters of his conglomerate as he was said to be in the United States of America. However, sources said he would return to Nigeria next week to personally sort out the problem.

It was also gathered that he was aware of the demands of the anti-corruption agency, but it could not be confirmed if he was informed before the EFCC sent its operatives to his company.

But a highly placed EFCC official said senior executives of the company had been mandated to supply the commission with what he called “detailed and unambiguous documents on the demands by the commission.”

It was gathered that the officials would be expected at the agency’s office on Tuesday.

“Yes, they (Dangote officials) asked for time to enable them to get all the necessary documents, which was granted. The idea is not to be seen to be witch-hunting anyone. What the commission wants is to get evidence and details of how government funds were allocated and that is all,” the EFCC official, who spoke to one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media on the development, said.

An official of the Dangote Group also confirmed that some key personnel of the conglomerate were currently gathering the documents requested by the EFCC to clear the company of any wrongdoing.

The source noted that the firm had sent some documents and key members of staff to the EFCC headquarters in Abuja in respect to the ongoing investigation, adding that it was shocked that the anti-graft agency still stormed its Lagos office on Thursday.

The official stated, “Yes, we were aware of the ongoing investigation by the EFCC and our people were at the headquarters in Abuja with some of the requested documents as of the time its operatives invaded our Lagos office in what I will describe as a show-off.

“We are a law-abiding group, but it is difficult to get all the documents covering the tenure of Emefiele at once, but our people are working at night to get all the relevant documents, which will be sent to the anti-graft agency next week.”

The source added, “As of the time of the raid, our people were in Abuja. We have been sleeping in the office to make sure that we get all the documents the EFCC requires for the investigation.

“We are talking about documents from 2014 to June 2023. It is a lot of documents and it will take time to get all of them readily available. We have, however, sent the ones we have at our immediate disposal and they are with the commission.

“The raid was just a way of embarrassing us and an act of show-off. We are law-abiding people running a legitimate business and we are cooperating with the investigation.”

The source also added that Dagote was in the United States and was worried about the development.

Before the raid, Dangote Industries had in November 2023 refuted allegations that it was involved in forex malpractices and money laundering involving $3.4bn allegedly facilitated by Emefiele.

The company denied the claims that the money was channelled to its non-Nigerian subsidiaries, prompting illicit financial flows and round-tripping.

Dangote noted that its investment undertakings were sourced from the interbank market, with all transactions supported by Letters of Credit in line with international standards.

The search of the Dangote headquarters on Thursday, it was gathered, commenced around 3pm and lasted several hours.

During the raid, the operatives ransacked offices and carted away several financial documents related to forex allocations to the group from 2014 to June 2023, when Emefiele was suspended from office by President Bola Tinubu.

It was further gathered that the commission had asked the 51 firms under probe to submit Form A and Form M detailing the forex allocations to them between 2014 and June 2023.

But while some companies complied with the directive, several others were said to have asked for time to get the documents.

The Special Investigator on the CBN and Related Entities, Jim Obazee, had reported to the President how Emefiele allegedly lodged public funds in foreign currencies in no fewer than 593 bank accounts in the United States, United Kingdom, and China without the approval of the apex bank’s board of directors and the CBN Investment Committee.

Obazee found that the ex-CBN governor allegedly lodged £543, 482,213 in fixed deposits in UK banks without authorisation, adding that he allegedly manipulated the naira exchange rate and committed fraud in the e-Naira project.

The investigator in a report submitted to the President on December 20, 2023, recommended that Emefiele, who is being prosecuted for alleged N1.2bn procurement fraud, should face fresh charges over the handling of the naira redesign policy and alleged illegal issuance of currency under Section 19 of the CBN Act.

He also recommended that the ex-CBN governor should be prosecuted alongside Tunde Sabiu, a former aide and nephew to former President Muhammadu Buhari, and 12 top directors of the CBN.

Emefiele denied the indictments, describing the content of Obazee’s investigation report as “false, misleading, and calculated to disparage my person, injure my character, and serve the selfish interest of the private investigator.”

A top EFCC official revealed that the EFCC was probing the preferential foreign exchange allocations allegedly made by Emefiele in defiance of extant financial rules and regulations and the CBN Act.

The official claimed, “The EFCC is investigating the Dangote Group over the preferential foreign exchange allocations made by the former CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, in defiance of extant financial rules and regulations and in disregard to the CBN Act.

“There are about 51 other big companies under probe over the development too, and the commission discovered that the allocations were not approved by the former President Muhammadu Buhari, so it was more of a means for the former CBN governor and his cronies to launder money through forex and Bureau De Change operators.”

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