Friday, October 21

$13bn repatriation: Senate committee threatens sanctions against minister

$13bn repatriation: Senate committee threatens sanctions against minister

The Senate committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions has threatened to sanction the Minister of Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Elenemah for alleged improper conduct.

The chairman of the committee, Senator Rafiu Ibrahim issued the warning yesterday shortly after an investigative hearing on an alleged infraction in the repatriation of $13 billion involving the Mobile Telecommunication Network (MTN) and four banks.

The Minister had left the venue of the hearing before the commencement of the exercise without the permission of the committee, an action the committee chairman considered inappropriate.

Senator Ibrahim said, “The Minister should learn to be more civilized in his engagement with this committee, otherwise we shall invoke our powers to impose sanctions against him”.

In his address to the committee, the chairman of MTN, Dr. Pascal Dozie denied any infraction in all transactions involving the Certificate of Capital Importation (CCI) with the Central Bank (CBN) of Nigeria, as alleged by the committee. However, in his own address, the Chief Executive Officer of the MTN, Mr. Ferdi Moolman said the 24-hour time frame provided by the CBN for companies to obtain CCI in respect of offshore transactions was not practicable.

The Senate committee had accused the MTN of failure to comply with the rules guiding the CCI in most of its offshore transactions, citing an instance where MTN obtained CCI five years after concluding offshore transactions.

Officials of Stanbic IBTC, Standard Chartered Bank, Citi Bank and Diamond Bank also addressed the committee and explained their involvement in CCI transactions with the MTN.

None of the banks admitted any infractions in CCI transactions on behalf of the telecom giant.

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