Nigeria: Senate Traces Defunct PHCN's 'Hidden' N14 Billion in Banks

10 January 2022

The Senate said it has uncovered proceeds of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) to the tune of N14.7 billion hidden in commercial banks by the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE).

Senate Public Accounts Committee chaired by Senator Matthew Urhoghide discovered this in the report of 2017 submitted to them by the Auditor General of the Federation.

While the billions are said to be hidden in commercial banks as of December 31, 2016 whereas the Privatization of PHCN was already concluded since 2013.

In its written submission to the committee, the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) said two separate Sums of N3.231,984.73 (allegedly held in Fidelity Bank PLC) and N18.199,520.87 (reporter as held in Stanbic Bank PLC) are unaudited bank balances that were actually no longer in existence as at the date of the audited financial statements.

It further stated: "With respect to the two other bank balances N4.4bn (Access Bank PLC) and N10.2billion in FCMB, the correct balance in Access Bank as at 31/12/16 was NIL as the bank had transferred a swelled balance of $34.1 million to the CBN domiciliary Account.

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"The bank had initially been unable to make the transfer as at September 2015 as required under TSA policy, owing to the inexistence of designated USD Treasury Single Account for dollar balances

"The balance in the FCMB Bank as at 31/12/2016 was only $36,053.55 following a transfer of $65,088,198.53.

"The residual balance remained until 18/95/17 due to inability of the bank to remit as required under the TSA policy owing to initial unavailability of designated TSA for USD balances as required under the then newly introduced policy. "

In its query, the committee had stated that Audit verification and reconciliation revealed that the sum of N14,720,396,432.43, being proceeds from the privatization exercise of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) was reported in the Bureau's Trial Balance to be in Commercial Bank Accounts as at 31st December 2016, whereas, the privatization of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) was concluded in 2013, the proceeds are yet to be remitted to Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Privatization Proceeds Accounts.

It continued: "The issue has been communicated to the Bureau via letter reference No. OAuGF/RESAD/05/2016/07 dated 19th April, 2018 and no response has been received.

"Unauthorised funds kept in Commercial Banks may be diverted for other purposes, thereby leading to loss of Revenue available for government programmes.

"The director-general is required to recover the sum of ₦14,720,396,432.43 being the proceeds of PHCN and remit the same to CRF and forward evidence of remittance to my office for audit confirmation."

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