20160813

REVEALED | N11.23billion Fraud uncovered at NPA, Three Big Banks Connected

The new management of the Nigerian Ports Authority has uncovered fraud totalling N11.23 billion at the agency. Insiders said the Managing Director, Hadiza Bala Usman, and executive directors, have since their assumption of duties on July 18 been poring through the books of the maritime agency.

So far, a series suspected transactions and amounting to N11.23billion have been uncovered.

Of the amount, according to PT, $24.1m (N7.47billion at N310/dollar) was traced to Heritage Bank, the successor bank to the defunct Societe Generale Bank owned by the Saraki family.

Insiders said the funds were collected by the bank as revenue for NPA, but that the financial house, in collusion with some officials of the maritime agency, failed to move it into NPA’s Treasury Single Account (TSA) with the Central Bank of Nigeria.

They were hiding the money there, and earning interests,” one official said.

The former management of the agency also failed to disclose the funds in the handover note passed to the Ms. Bala Usman-led team, the sources said.

Another six million Euros (N2.09billion at N348 to a euro) were found concealed in two banks – First Bank of Nigeria and First City Monument Bank, the sources said.

Yet another $5.4million (N1.67billion at N310 to a dollar) belonging to the NPA was moved to TSA accounts in the CBN different from those belonging to the maritime agency, insiders say.

It remains unclear what the new NPA management is doing to recover the funds, but PT sources said Ms. Bala Usman already contacted Heritage Bank, First Bank and FCMB directing them to release the agency’s funds in their custody.

Heritage Bank’s officials were quoted to have claimed that releasing the funds might lead to collapse of their bank.

When contacted, the NPA managing director confirmed that her team had been receiving briefings and looking into the books of the agency in the past weeks.

She said some revenue leakages and hidden funds had been located but that she was not ready to provide details because the minister supervising the authority had not been briefed.