• Wed. May 22nd, 2024


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Senate uncovers N14.7bn PHCN Funds Hidden in Banks

Senate has unearthed N14.7 billion, being money belonging to the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), allegedly hidden in commercial banks by the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE).

Senate Public Accounts Committee, chaired by Senator Matthew Urhoghide, relied on a 2017 Auditor General’s report to unravel the money. Privatisation of PHCN, meanwhile, had been concluded since 2013.

BPE, however, maintained there was nothing unusual about the money since it has been accounted for.

In its written submission, BPE argued: “Two separate sums of N3.231,984.73 (allegedly held in Fidelity Bank PLC) and N18.199,520.87 (reported 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.

“With respect to the two other bank balances of N4.4 billion (Access Bank Plc) and N10.2 billion in FCMB, the correct balance in Access Bank as of December 31, 2016, was nil, as the bank had transferred a swelled balance of $34.1 million to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) domiciliary account.

“The bank had initially been unable to make the transfer as of September 2015 as required under Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy, owing to the non-existence of designated USD TSA account for dollar balances. The balance in FCMB, as of December 31, 2016, was only $36,053.55, following a transfer of $65,088,198.53.

“The residual balance remained, 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.”

The query reads: “Audit verification and reconciliation revealed that N14,720,396,432.43, being proceeds from the privatisation of PHCN, was reported in the Bureau’s Trial Balance to be in commercial bank accounts, as at December 31, 2016.

“Whereas the privatisation of PHCN was concluded in 2013, the proceeds are yet to be remitted to CBN Privatisation Proceeds Accounts.

“The issue has been communicated to the Bureau via letter reference No. OAuGF/RESAD/05/2016/07 dated April 19, 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 N14,720,396,432.43, being proceeds of PHCN, remit the same, and forward evidence of remittance to my office for audit confirmation.”

By News Editor

Our News Editor, Muyiwa is an information management expert and Development Blogger with more than a decade experience in investigative reporting and journalism. He is passionate about human angle stories to all social issues in Nigeria and Africa.