N55bn BOI Alleged Fraud: ICPC Concludes Investigations, May Drag Suspects to Court

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. How Legal Officer’s Mysterious death delayed Case File

. Re-Assigns Case-File on alleged  Illegal Sale of FG’s N40bn Shares

. Wraps up Probe  into  Sales of 15bn Ikoyi, Lagos Properties…

By Hamilton Nwosa ( The New Diplomat’s  Head of Business Desk)

Going by the determination of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to shore up national revenue, as well as uphold its zero tolerance for corruption, the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC)  is said  have  concluded painstaking investigations into the alleged illegal and unethical sales of  about N40bn worth of Federal Government shares  in WAMCO by the then Management team of Bank of Industry (BOI) led Mr Rasheed Olaoluwa, the then Managing Director of the Bank.

The New Diplomat checks  reveal that the ICPC in  keeping with its commitment to the  anti-corruption war of the Buhari administration may charge the matter to court soon. Presidency sources hinted The New Diplomat that the reported delay in the movement of the case file at the ICPC might have been due to a reported sudden death of a certain case officer handling an aspect of the case file. Investigations however, reveal that following the reported sudden death of the legal officer late last year, the case file was then re-assigned to another officer within the Commission.

The main thrust of the case is an alleged  inappropriate  sale of 127 million units of Federal Government Shares in WAMCO valued at about N40bn which were held  in trust on behalf of the Federal Government.

The reported unauthorized and unlawful sales by the erstwhile management team led Mr Olaoluwa as managing director of BOI at the time was said to have caught the attention of  some  presidency top shots who frowned at the alleged deal.  Other allegations reportedly center around questionable and unauthorized sale of multi-billion-naira Federal Government properties located in choice areas in  Ikoyi and Victoria Island, Lagos. The properties are said to be worth over N15billion naira.  Multiple sources at the Presidency and at the anti-graft agency confided in The New Diplomat  that thorough and painstaking  investigations into these alleged  transactions may have been concluded with the expectation that the matter might be charged to court soon.

Recall that The New Diplomat had  blown open how Federal Government shares in WAMCO valued at about N40 billion naira were hurriedly sold off in controversial and curious circumstances, a few days after President Buhari assumed office on May 29, 2015 without a requisite Board approval as required by Law and due process.

Recall that sources had confided in The New Diplomat that the ICPC had   subsequently re-opened the case-file thus escalating investigations into the subject matter just as Presidency big wigs are said to be shocked about the alleged questionable transactions. This was said to have raised issues bordering on  reputational crisis.

The New Diplomat checks reveal that the reported unauthorized  sales which were said to have been executed exactly on June 15, 2015, a few days before Buhari issued a presidential directive, dissolving all Federal Boards, Agencies and Parastatals with the exception of statutory ones as prescribed by Law, did not follow due process.

The New Diplomat  in its investigations had tracked how  procedural  approvals from the approving authorities before these multi-billion naira  sales were executed were allegedly breached. Presidency sources reveal that this move may have amounted a  clear breach of extant rules, procedures and an alleged violation of the appropriate laws regulating government transactions, especially as it patterns to the BOI. The approving authority  in the case of the BOI is the Board of Directors  of BOI with representatives drawn from the Ministry of Trade and Investment, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Private Sector, etc. In the absence of a Board, the Supervisory, which is Ministry of Trade and Investment is said to be vested with the requisite   power, going by BOI’s extant institutional guidelines, to approve such sales.  But curiously,   sources revealed that this was never followed.

Equally shocking to top Presidency Officials, according to earlier  findings by The New Diplomat, was the controversial sale of choice properties belonging to BOI without due process in choice locations in Lagos, including Ikoyi and Victoria Island. An insider told The New Diplomat: “ No adverts were placed for the illegal sales of the FG properties located at NO 21 (A and B) Mekunwen Road, Ikoyi which was purportedly  bought by City Matters International and FG Properties located at 952 and 953 Idejo Street, Victoria Island which were bought allegedly by Lords Flavour Nigeria Ltd… As I speak to you, the former MD is being investigated and interrogated by ICPC on these matters.  They never knew that a government like that of President Buhari would come into Office and begin to ask questions why certain things were not done properly in accordance with the Law and in line with due process…These properties that were purportedly sold off clandestinely are worth over N15bn going by current market valuation.”

It would be recalled that in its earlier report The New Diplomat  had unveiled how  investigators reportedly raised crucial questions  in their bid to get to the root of the protracted case: Who authorized the sale? Why was a Board Approval not obtained? Why the hurried sale of the shares shortly after President Buhari assumed Office? Who bought the N40bn worth of FG Shares in WAMCO, held in trust by BOI? Who benefited from the brokerage fees estimated at roughly about N800M? Who bought the Ikoyi and Victoria Island properties belonging to BOI? Why were these sales not advertised in national dailies? Why was due process not followed for their transactions? In fact, why was the appropriate procedure and due process not adhered to in these transactions? Sources had hinted that the Financial Investigations Unit (FIU) of the  ICPC  also examined  why due process was  allegedly breached. Procedurally,  proposed sales are advertized  in national newspapers after obtaining a documented Board approval duly accompanied with detailed minutes of Board meetings.

The New Diplomat  investigations  had also tracked an internal memo from the Inspectorate  and Control Division written by one Mr Augustine Okoh, raising serious queries about the sale of the N40bn  worth of FG shares in WAMCO  without a Board approval as required. The query which raised a red flag in the Financial Institution was quite revealing.   He wrote: ‘’ We  saw the management approval to sell off some equities. However, we did not see the Board approval to sell off all the shares …”  It would be recalled that ICPC had been on this matter since the Buhari administration took office. In the process of its investigations, the ICPC had quizzed Mr Olaoluwa, the former MD of BOI.

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