Controversies surround $10m deposit, N1.360bn recovered for NEXIM

There ARE strong indications that the sum of $10,180,583.10 and N1,360,736,865 recovered by investigators for the Export-Import Bank of Nigeria may have been misappropriated.

The sums were recovered from Heritage Bank in 2019 by the dissolved Presidential Special Investigative Panel on the Recovery of Public Assets.

The $10 million was part of the $20 million NEXIM Bank management is said to have illegally placed in a time deposit, while the N1.36 billion was a refund from Heritage Bank on behalf of Paytech Technology Limited. , which the bank had provided. collateral for a loan he took from NEXIM Bank.

Paytech had not repaid the loan until SPIP made the bank pay off its debt to NEXIM Bank.

But the findings showed that NEXIM failed to account for or acknowledge the recoveries in its communication with the National Assembly, as it investigated the status of recovered loot and Federal Government assets.

Instead, the financial institution, which was established by Law 38 of 1991 as an export credit agency with registered capital of N50bn, said the bank only recovered N133m through SPIP’s intervention.

In a letter to SPIP dated July 29, 2019, NEXIM Bank acknowledged receipt of the deposit sum of $10m and N1.360bn, being the settlement of the Paytech loan from Heritage Bank.

The recognition was contained in a letter entitled “Investigative Activities: Re: Placement of NEXIM Bank” and signed by the Managing Director, Abba Bello, and addressed to the then President of SPIP, Chief Okoi Obono-Obla.

The letter read in part: “Thank you very much for sending us the letter from Heritage Bank dated May 2, 2019. We have noted its contents and would like to comment on the following:

“Payments: Attached you will find a schedule detailing the transactions in the account since August 2017 when your office became involved. We confirm receipt of the accumulated sum of $10,180,583.10 from Heritage Bank, $2,889,250.32 of which has been paid after the intercession of your office.

“We also confirm receipt of the sum of N1,360,736,865:00, being the liquidation of the guarantee crystallized to Paytech Technology Limited.”

Regarding Heritage Bank’s appeal for an extension of the payment of its obligation, which was due in May 2019, Bello said that his organization was required to agree to the request for an undetermined period in which the bank must pay.

Since the payment period had passed, the head of NEXIM urged SPIP to seek a definitive payment date from Heritage Bank, which must not exceed six months from when it was first due.

“We wish to reiterate that while this is pending, interest and penalties, if applicable, will continue to accrue as agreed in the terms and conditions of the placement,” the letter said.

Interestingly, the bank did not mention the amount recovered by the SPIP in its communication with the ad hoc Committee of the House of Representatives on the evaluation and status of all loot, personal and real property recovered between 2002 and 2020 by Federal Government agencies. from Nigeria. for effective/efficient management and utilization.

In a letter to the secretary of the committee dated June 21, 2021 and signed by Bello, the bank stated: “It should be noted that there were no seizures of N523m and real estate of NEXIM Bank as claimed or reported by the dissolved SPIP.

“Please note that the total recoveries of loans granted by the previous administration of the bank through the intervention of the SPIP amount to N133,052,860.35:00. We thank you for your kind support and please accept the assurances of our warmest regards.”

Asked about the discrepancies in the recoveries presented to the National Assembly, Bello, who denied recognizing said amount, alleged that he did not remember the recovered deposit and loan.

NEXIM Bank spokesperson Tayo Omidiji stated in a text message, “I talked to the MD (Bello) and he said he never made a statement like that. The statement about the recovery of $10 million did not come from NEXIM. He does not recall mentioning the figures quoted here.”

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