The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has said that as of March 2015, it had realised N1,956,007,974 as interest on the loot recovered from convicted former Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Tafa Balogun; the late former Governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, and other prominent Nigerians.
The EFCC further revealed that between March, 2012 and March, 2013, it generated N185m rent from the forfeited properties of a former Managing Director of the defunct Intercontinental Bank, Mr. Erastus Akingbola; a convicted ex-Governor of Edo State, Chief Lucky Igbinedion; a former Plateau State Governor, Senator Joshua Dariye; and nine others.
The EFCC said this in a write-up titled, ‘What EFCC did with recovered loot’, which was published on its official website.
The commission explained it received permission from the then President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, to spend N183m out of the interest generated on the recovered funds when it had financial constraints.
The commission gave the breakdown while reacting to a petition written against its former Chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, who is the subject of a Senate inquiry.
In a petition by a security consultant, George Uboh, Lamorde was, among other things, accused of diverting the proceeds of Balogun’s forfeitures between 2008 and 2013 at an interest of 12 per cent per annum, amounting to N2,154,625,556.37.
In its response, however, the anti-graft agency said the recovered funds were deposited in some interest-yielding accounts on the instruction of the courts.
The EFCC said, “The placement of forfeited money in interest-yielding accounts is not an entirely new idea. The court, in various rulings, ordered some funds to be placed in interest yielding accounts. Rather than warehousing forfeited funds in current accounts for a long period, the commission lodged such funds, including those of Tafa Balogun, in interest yielding accounts.
“The interest element is always in line with CBN Cash Reserve Ratio and not fixed. Not a single kobo is taken out by the commission under this initiative. It is interesting to note that under this initiative, as of March 2015, the sum of N696,590,765.36 was generated as interest on recovered funds with Access Bank Plc.
“Another sum of N522,807,543.83 presently stands as interest generated from recovered funds with Ecobank Plc, while the subsidy recoveries with Enterprise Bank Plc has yielded the sum of N736,609,666.62.
“All the money is intact and is held on behalf of the Federal Government until all encumbrances to their release are cleared.”
The EFCC, however, admitted that it withdrew over N183m from the interest in Access Bank to run its affairs after taking permission from Jonathan, the then President.
The anti-graft agency added, “Sometime in 2011, the EFCC was facing budgetary constraints with adverse consequences for its operations. Consequently, the commission approached (former) President Goodluck Jonathan through the Attorney General of the Federation and received presidential approval to utilise interest, which accrued on recovered funds amounting to N183,124,185.94.
“It was on the basis of the approval received by the commission to utilise the accrued interest that the above instrument, Ref. EFCC/ACCESS/PS/01/01, dated January 9, 2012, was raised.”
The anti-graft agency also denied allegations that Lamorde manipulated the forfeitures and recoveries to the tune of N3.7bn from Alamieyeseigha for two years before formally documenting the transaction
The EFCC said the money realised from the disposal of Alamieyeseigha’s properties was remitted to the commission’s account by Real Estate Derivatives Limited on July 24, 2008 while the last payment from the sale of the ex-governor’s assets in Nigeria was received in March, 2009.
“On July 9, 2009, the total sum of N3,128,230,294.83, realised from the assets, was remitted to the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Finance in favour of Bayelsa State,” it added.
The agency said it was still in possession of N157,708,387.64 from the loot recovered from Alamieyseigha.
It said it would remit the money to the Federal Government’s account soon.
It stated, “The balance of N157,708,387.64 with the commission comprises the sum of N97,708.387.64 forfeited by Pesal Nigeria Limited, which was remitted to the commission by Diamond Bank on June 12, 2015, and the sum of N60m discovered through routine account reconciliation in 2014.
“This balance will be remitted at the end of the ongoing audit of the commission’s exhibits and recoveries by a reputable international audit firm. Regarding the offshore assets of DSP Alamieyeseigha, the repatriation of the forfeited foreign assets was handled by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation, not the EFCC.”
The anti-graft agency dismissed allegations that Lamorde, while serving as the Director of Operations in September, 2008, diverted several cheques and drafts valued at N1,678,345,000.
According to the commission, looters, who return money through cheques and drafts, usually make deposits into Federal Government’s accounts in the Central Bank of Nigeria, which the EFCC has no access to.