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Friday, June 25, 2021

How $300 million NNPC fund was secretly lodged in Polaris Bank for years

The House of Representatives Ad hoc Committee on Recovered Loots and Assets of Government, yesterday, heard of how $300 million belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was “hidden in a Polaris Bank account and remained unattended to for years.”⁣

At the public hearing of the panel in Abuja yesterday, lawmakers sought to know from the financial institution the interest that accrued to the money from 2012 till date.⁣

But the bank’s Acting Managing Director (MD), Innocent Ike, insisted that the fund was not hidden, but deposited appropriately by the national oil firm the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).⁣

He informed the lawmakers that the fund was deposited in tranches in the defunct Skye Bank before the Treasury Single Account (TSA) came into effect.

Mr. Ike explained that the bank was unable to refund the money when CBN gave the directive to that effect, due to liquidity constraint.

But the complainant and former public prosecutor with the defunct Special Presidential Investigative Panel (SPIP) on government assets and loots recovery, Tosin Ojaomo, disagreed.⁣

Maintaining that the transaction was shrouded in secrecy, the ex-prosecutor stated: “The bank did not disclose anything, it secretly kept the money. It was when the presidential panel got wind of the hidden money, arrested the bank managers, interrogated and started prosecuting them that they admitted that the money was with them.”⁣

“Upon discovery, the NNPC petitioned the House in its quest to recover the money having failed to cause the bank to release it on the corporation’s request,” he added.⁣

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