Lawmakers grill banks as $30bn revenue probe begins

Lawmakers grill banks as $30bn revenue probe begins

The Joint Committee on Finance, Banking and Currency of the House of Representatives has begun an investigation of the leakages amounting to $30bn annually in the transfer of funds to execute international contracts, interbank transfers, among others.

At its inaugural investigative hearing on Monday, the committee, co-chaired by Messrs James Faleke and Victor Nwokolo, grilled officials of Citibank and Fidelity Bank over alleged infractions.

In his opening address, Faleke stated that the House, at its sitting on March 5, 2020, resolved to conduct an investigative hearing on revenue leakages in excess of $30bn.

Faleke noted that a probe became necessary as a result of growing problems in the financial management of all the God-given resources in Nigeria, The PUNCH reports.

He stressed the need to put an end to or, at best, minimise all attributable infractions that had been instruments in the hands of some stakeholders in bringing economic woes to the country and its people.

He listed the infractions to include lifting of some crude oil and gas by oil exploration companies, concealment and non-disclosure of some crude oil liftings, overnight and fictitious disappearance of naira proceeds of foreign inflows and multiple foreign exchange allocations to holders of foreign inflow Certificates of Capital Importation.

The committee grilled the representative of Citibank, Ngozi Omoke, over alleged non-remittance of funds due to the Federation Account.

The committee also picked holes in the presentation made by the representative of Fidelity Bank, Hassan Imam.

Among numerous others, Faleke said the committee discovered that Citibank had Form A transfer by customers through their bank accounts that were not filed with the CBN and committee, with no evidence of withholding tax amounting to $3, 107, 398, 073.

The committee also disagreed with the bank's position on advertisement, saying it was a taxable item.

Faleke, therefore, directed the bank to make available all the receipts of various transactions.

The committee also directed its clerk to write to the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) to appear before it to confirm the remittances.

Omoke, while responding to the allegations, said the bank conducted its activities within the provisions of the Foreign Exchange Monitoring and Miscellaneous Provision Act.

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