Emefiele: 20 Banks Face Probe Over Forex Deals

The probe instituted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) into the use of foreign exchange by some companies and financial institutions under the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, is to be spread to at least 20 banks, sources close to the commission have said.

Nigerian Tribune was reliably told at the weekend that the probe, which has seen operatives storm corporate offices of Dangote Group and some others would be extended to at least 20 commercial banks, while some merchant banks would also be investigated.

The source said that the investigation would span at least nine years, adding that commercial banks, merchant banks and some other companies are being investigated.

“I cannot say how the media got the figure of 52 companies, but they are quite a number. This is a general investigation on the use of foreign exchange in nearly the past nine years and it is not an isolated case targeted at a particular company,” a source said, adding “a whole lot of issues are being looked and the issue of forex is ringing bell because of its implication for the national economy.”

The source also added that the EFCC was looking into allocation of foreign exchange to friends and associates by the former CBN governor.

Another source said that the EFCC got Emefiele released to it by the Department of State Services (DSS) in October and since then a lot of investigations had gone into his activities at the helm of affairs at the CBN, adding that what was on-going was an all-encompassing investigation into the roles of banks and financial institutions as well as heavy forex users around the time in question.

A source close to the development, however, said that the paucity of information on the matter so far was as a result of the need for the EFCC to avoid being accused of media trial and that the commission was carefully perusing all documents needed to make conclusive deductions.

“What is happening is a general investigation into forex allocations under Emefiele. It is not intended to embarrass any corporation or agency,” a source close to the commission said.

Concerning the on-going probe of the former Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, HajiaSadiya Umar-Farouk, who is being investigated over alleged N37 billion fraud, a source said that the former minister might be given a deadline to appear before the commission this week.

The former minister had failed to appear before the commission all through last week on indications that she was suffering from illness.

A source who spoke on the suspended Chief Executive Officer of the National Social Investment Programme Agency (NSIPA), Hajia Halima Shehu said that the suspended CEO had been cooperating with investigators and that she had been appearing before investigators since last week.

A source close to the development told the Nigerian Tribune: “I can confirm to you that Halima, CEO of NSIPA has been appearing before investigators. She resumes in the morning and closes at the end of the day. That should continue this week until investigators are satisfied. As for Umar-Farouk, the commission may have to come hard on this suspect because she has not appeared at all. A day will be set for her appearance.”