SPOKESMAN for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Malam Garba-Deen Muhammad yesterday said the corporation was the first to report to the Presidency that nine banks were hiding its $2.33 billion.
He was reacting to reports in some online media (The Nation not inclusive) that the NNPC was indicted for not remitting the money.
In a chat with The Nation, Muhammed said: “Some social media are trending that NNPC has been indicted for some money not remitted. It is the same old story. The fact is that NNPC reported those nine banks to the Presidency.
“And the Presidency now directed the CBN to go after those banks. It is not the other way round. NNPC is not indicted.”
According to The Nation story on the fund, nine deposit money banks (DMBs) sailed into trouble waters for hiding over $2.274 billion belonging to the NNPC from the TSA.
The newspaper reported that the CBN wielded the big stick by banning the banks from forex transactions.
The banks suspension is to remain in force until they remit all the funds to the TSA.
President Muhammadu Buhari has been briefed on the breach by the banks. They have been mandated to move the monies to the TSA before any consideration for their re-entry into forex trading.
Two days ago, the banks came under fire from the apex bank, which accused them of engaging in round tripping and threatened to punish the breach.
Initially many of them declined comments on the development, except the UBA which said: “Our attention has been drawn to report of the ban of UBA from the foreign exchange market by the CBN over the non-remittance of NNPC/NLNG dollar deposits.
“We wish to state very categorically that UBA has completely remitted all NNPC/NLNG dollar deposits.
“We thank all our numerous customers, business partners and other stakeholders who have reached out to us on account of this report.”
Before their official reports yesterday, reliable sources from some of the banks had said that the issue was being resolved. They said the matter was not an infraction in the sense of the word, adding that if it were so, the apex bank would have since debited their accounts at source.
A Fidelity Bank official who pleaded for anonymity said: “NLNG was paying dividends from the investment of the government in the company to the NNPC. These dividends had accumulated to about $5 billion.
“The NNPC was investing this dividend payment in a dedicated account as fixed deposits with commercial banks. When the government raised the issue that the dividends should have been paid into the Federation Account, the CBN Governor invited the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of all the banks that had the funds to Abuja for a meeting on the following a reconciliation of the amount in each bank with the records of CBN/NNPC and agreed a repayment time table of the funds with the banks.
“As at the time the TSA implementation commenced in September 2015 some of the banks had paid back over 50 per cent of the funds based on the repayment timetable.
“This repayment by the banks was the bailout of $2.1bn (N414billion) that was shared by the FGN and state governments in July/August 2015
“When the TSA commenced, the banks reported these funds as part of government deposits they had, but it was not remitted like other TSA funds because of the remittance timetable that had been agreed with the CBN.
“The NNPC invited banks earlier this year to submit a revised repayment plan for the balance of the funds. From the above you can see that the CBN and NNPC had a clear picture of the status of these funds with the banks.”
An official of the FCMB who spoke on the condition of anonymity said: “We are working with the Central Bank of Nigeria on an amicable resolution. This is really a function of the dire macroeconomic situation and liquidity in the FX markets, rather than concealment, or willful non-compliance by banks.”
A Diamond Bank source also said that the bank never concealed any funds.
According to the official, who pleaded not to be named, Diamond Bank had actually paid $500 million to date, adding that the bank approached the CBN to ask that the balance be paid in naira, since the value of the local currency has fallen so badly and because of acute shortage of forex.