Alleged 2bn dollar fraud: FG begins ministers probe

Alleged 2bn dollar fraud: FG begins ministers probe

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Alleged 2bn dollar fraud: FG begins ministers probe 

 The Federal Government has begun interrogation of those implicated in the alleged fraud that left over 65,000 Nigerian share­holders losing two billion dollars worth of shares.

Those invited for interrogation were former minister of Budget and Nation­al Planning, Sen. Udo Udoma and his counterpart in the Ministry of Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enel­amah.

Mr Chukwuemeka Obasi , the legal representative of the whistle-blower disclosed this to newsmen on Wednes­day in Abuja.

Obasi said that the General Manag­ing Director of Union Bank Nig Plc, Mr Emeka Emuwa was also ques­tioned.

According to him, the various rep­resentatives of all private and public institutions linked with the fraud were also invited and quizzed.

Obasi said the establishments men­tioned in the petition included the Cha­pel Hill, National Security Exchange (NSE), Security Exchange Commis­sion (SEC) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The interrogation hinged on a peti­tion reporting the alleged fraud sub­mitted to the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, dated April 3, 2019.

The petition is titled “Official cor­ruption, misuse of FGN USD two bil­lion, fraud and unjust enrichment of persons who dispossessed more than 65,000 Nigerians and conferred own­ership of the Bank on few Nigerians and their foreign accomplices’’.

The petition did finger former Cen­tral Bank Governor, the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi II, under whose watch the alleged fraud was perpetuated.

Also accused of alleged complexi­ties in the transactions were the two former ministers.

Enelamah was particularly fingered as the mastermind of the transaction by allegedly leading Africa Capital Alliance to form the Mauritius shell company to house Nigerians pretend­ing to be foreign investors.

The transactions allegedly dispos­sessed Nigerian shareholders and in­vestors in order to transfer ownership of the bank to a few persons includ­ing insiders, chieftains of competitor banks and others who would not pass CBN’s “fit and proper’’ test for bank ownership.

The petition claimed that Enelamah

allegedly organised the registration of the offshore shell company in Mau­ritius called Union Global Partners Limited for the purpose of disguising the true majority ownership of Union Bank shares concealed in the offshore company.

The petition also alleged that the transactions commenced under Udo­ma’s supervision as Chairman of Se­curity and Exchange Commission and sealed up when he became the Chair­man of Union Bank of Nigeria Plc.

“The circumstances can best be de­scribed as official corruption and in­sider trading’’, the petition alleged.

The petition further alleged that Udoma and other officials illicitly granted a renewable five year waiver to Union Bank of Nigeria to remain listed on the exchange in spite of being owned by a few private equity firms till today.

According to the petition, the al­leged unlawful action is to ensure the more than 65,000 Nigeria former shareholders whose shares were diluted from 85 per cent to less than 15 per cent of public float to still be listed on Nige­rian Stock Exchange (NSE).

“It is to be recalled that 49% shares of Union Bank of Nigeria plc is now ma­jority owned and controlled by London listed Atlas Mara, the investment com­pany led by Robert Diamond Jr.

“Mr Diamond is a former Chief Ex­ecutive Officer of Barclays Bank who was sacked for his involvement in ma­nipulating Libor.

“Not only is Mr Diamond not a fit and proper person to own a bank according to the rules of Nigeria, he had also been blacklisted by the Bank of England as a result of the Libor manipulation.

“One wonders how the former CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi au­thorised the Union Bank change of ownership transaction and bridged it with USD two billion national patri­mony, in spite of glaring evidence of fraud and the nature of the ultimate foreign owner who was already known and waiting in the wings.

“There are evidence that Atlas Mara has visions of owning 100% of Union Bank of Nigeria plc which they can only achieve by buying shares ware­housed by the few privileged Nigeri­ans that acquired the bank in appar­ently unwholesome circumstances.

“Those few privileged Nigerians are now cashing in on their loot in transac­tions with Atlas Mara, at the expense of dispossessed Nigerians,’’ the peti­tion said.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) re­ports that the alleged fraud has inter­national dimensions reaching United Kingdom, Canada, USA, Netherlands and Mauritius.

NAN further reports that official record has it that Atlas Mara controls 49 per cent control share of the bank which is in turn controlled by Fairfax Africa based in Canada and United States.

According to the petition, Mauritius equally has a significant control right, because the offshore shell company called Union Global Partners Limited (UGPL) is another significant owner that has sold and continues to offload its shares to Atlas Mara.

Nigerians who were former share­holders of Union Bank of Nigeria ea­gerly await the outcome of this inves­tigation.

NAN reports that UGPL acquired 65 per cent of the bank in the odious transaction that dispossessed Nigeri­ans.

NAN further reports that the Assets Management Corporation of Nige­ria (AMCON) was also compelled to divest its 20 per cent shares to Atlas Mara which the UGPL consortium was unable to pay for.

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