14 January 2013

Nigeria: Polymer Contract - EFCC Invites Mint Directors

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has invited for questioning the executive director of finance at the Nigeria Security Printing and Minting Company (NSPMC), Ibrahim Babayo; a former executive director and two general managers of the company.

Sequel to the interrogation of former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria Prof. Chukwuma Soludo by the EFCC over bribery allegations, Babayo along with the three others are to report to the commission today at 10am to answer questions about the origin of the letter of credit (LC) for the printing and purchase of polymer bank notes from an Australian company.

Sources familiar with the case told LEADERSHIP that the former CBN governor had, when drilled by the commission, shifted attention to the NSPMC by suggesting that it was the minting company rather than his office that opened the letter of credit in the polymer bank note contract.

Spokesman of the EFCC Wilson Uwujaren confirmed that staff of the NSPMC had been invited, adding that all those that were involved in the polymer contract, including staff of the CBN, have been invited. He however said he could not comment further on the focus of the investigation because he was yet to be briefed.

Babayo and the NSPMC are said to be reporting to the EFCC for a second time. They were initially invited late last year and, after Soludo's interrogation last week, they were sent a second invitation.

The EFCC, LEADERSHIP learnt, is also looking at the purchase of a N28 billion Orlof mint machine from KBA Giori in Austria. The purchase, sources said, was hurriedly done in the dying days of the Olusegun Obasanjo presidency and was commissioned by the then president on May 27, 2007.

But a financial source also said that EFCC may not have made the N2.1 billion reportedly missing from the printing and minting company part of its investigation. He said, " EFCC should include this in its investigation. Other than the N1,000 denomination, what has been stolen from the other denominations is by far larger.

"Both the CBN and the NSPMC have been unable to come with a definite amount of how much money has been stolen from the mint company over years, fearing the quantity may be too large to contemplate or for any audit to determine within a short period of time."

He added, "Money is still being stolen there and it started with the merging of NSPMC with the CBN. It should be an organisation on its own with a separate board of directors."

The NSPMC lost its independence when Soludo, as CBN governor, became chairman of the company's board of directors.

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