The Senate has employed the services of international forensic experts in the on-going probe of MTN and others accused of violating the nation’s Foreign Exchange Monetary and Miscellaneous Act.The hired international forensic experts made up of lawyers, accountants and others are to assist in the comprehensive investigation of the alleged repatriation of $13.9 billion by MTN.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking,Insurance and other Financial Institutions, Rafiu Ibrahim, disclosed this to journalists at the National Assembly complex, Abuja, yesterday. Ibrahim said that the experts had already arrived Nigeria and had commenced work with other local forensic experts to unravel possible hidden details from the documents that had been submitted by those facing investigation.
He said: “The Senate sees this as very important; it is a weighty allegation and we are going to deal with a lot of documents spanning 16 years. Based on that, we got the approval of the leadership of the Senate and we have engaged international and local forensic experts, accountants and lawyers.
“The team has been fully assembled and they have started working: this is not going to be a normal periphery investigation because it involves a lot of documents. “We will be starting the investigative hearing tomorrow, we will listen to each of them and we will take it from there,” he said.
The committee chairman stated that a lot of private individuals and government agencies had been invited to brief it today, noting that some of those invited had submitted requested documents and indicated willingness to be at the hearing.
“MTN has submitted and they promised to attend. Diamond Bank has submitted, Standard Chartered Bank has submitted and they promised to attend. Stanbic has submitted and they promised to attend. “Mallam Ahmed Dasuki has no submission yet, Col. Sani Bello, no submission, but we are expecting them tomorrow.
Other names that will appear are Gbenga Oyebode and Dr. Victor Odili,” he said. Others expected to appear before the committee are Minister of Industries, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah; former Chairman of Diamond Bank, Dr. Paschal Dozie, and the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria. Senator Dino Melaye, who blew the whistle on the alleged repatriation, expressed satisfaction with the level of attention given to the allegation. He said: “I am particularly excited that the Senate has engaged forensic auditors who also double as lawyers and who have already commenced work.
I can tell you that even preliminary investigations have revealed that the $13.9 billion is far lower than what the outcome will look like. We have realised from these preliminary investigations that it is actually outrageously higher than the $13.9 billion.”
Meanwhile, Enelamah, in a letter to the committee, denied any involvement in the alleged fraudulent repatriation of funds. In the letter HMITI/ GEN.CORR./VOL.1/, dated October 7, Enelamah said he had neither had any engagement with the MTN nor earned dividends.
“I was never owner of Celtelecom Investment Limited or a shareholder in Celtelecom as recorded on pages 402 and 403 of the Votes and Proceedings of the Senate of Tuesday, September 27.“Between 1998 and 2015, I served as the Chief Executive Officer of Capital Alliance, a wholly owned subsidiary of African Capital Alliance (ACA), an investment company. “Two funds managed by ACA together with some individuals and entities invested in MTN with Celtelecom as the investment vehicle.
“I served as a director in Celtelecom representing the ACA management fund. I have never claimed that I invested in MTN; neither did I obtain a Certificate of Capital Importation on 7th February, 2008,” he said. The minister informed the committee that, according to standard business practice, investors did not have responsibility for the remittance of proceeds from the company they invested in. Accordingly, he said, “so, at no time was I ever in position to transfer funds out of Nigeria on behalf of MTN.”