N19billion Paris Club scam: EFCC report indicts Saraki, aides, ex SGBN MD
*Saraki aides: Gbenga Makajuola, Obiora Amobi, others named
*Report sent to Buhari, waiting for prosecution
It is authoritative and established that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has submitted a preliminary report to President Muhammadu Buhari linking Senate President, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki and some of his senior aides as well as a bank chief to the diversion of about N19billion from the N522billion Paris Club refund.
The report also fingered Mr. Robert Mbonu of Melrose General Services Limited. Mbonu is a former Managing Director of Societe Generale Bank of Nigeria (SGBN), the commercial bank owned by the Saraki family which was later liquidated.
The Federal Government had, in December 2016, approved the sum of N522.74billion to be paid to the 36 states of the federation as part of the reimbursement of the over-deduction on the Paris Club loan from 1995 to 2002.
The EFCC had sometimes in January discovered that the loan refunds were illegally routed through the account of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Upon receiving the Paris Club funds, the NGF, in an alleged connivance with Saraki, began remitting huge sums to private consultants who then laundered about N19billion.
According to the report, apart from the NGF, others under investigation include the Relationship Manager to the Senate President in Access Bank, Kathleen Erhimu.
Some others under probe and identified as Saraki’s aides include Obiora Amobi, Gbenga Makanjuola, Kolawole Shittu and Oladapo Idowu.
The report alleges that sometimes in December, Saraki introduced the ex-bank MD, Mbonu, to Erhimu. Others at the meeting were Saraki’s aforementioned aides.
It added that sequel to the meeting, the sum of N3.5billion was lodged into Melrose General Services Company account number 0005892453, domiciled in Access Bank from the Nigeria Governors Forum on the 14th December.
The report stated that two of Saraki’s aides, Obiora Amobi and Gbenga Makanjuola, were introduced to Access Bank as representatives of Melrose General Services Limited by Mbonu to enable them to make cash withdrawals from the account.
It added that Amobi and Makanjuola made cash withdrawals in various tranches of N5million and N10million.
The Paris Club report reads in part, “Based on the foregoing findings, it is clear that Robert Mbonu, the Managing Director of Melrose General Services Company and his company were used to help divert proceeds of unlawful activities under the guise of payment for contractual obligations with the Nigeria Governors Forum.
“Suffice to apprise that all payments received by Melrose General Services Company from the NGF have hitherto been diverted directly via cash withdrawals and indirectly through transfers by Gbenga Peter Makanjuola, Kolawole Shittu and Oladapo Joseph Idowu, who are principal aides to the Senate President.
“Furthermore, other payments from Melrose General Services Company have also been linked to companies that Dr. Bukola Saraki has interest in and carries out transactions with.
“This includes the sum of $183,000, which was transferred to Bhaska Devji Jewellers, Dubai, a company Dr. Bukola Saraki had repeatedly made payments to.
“Also, the sum of N200million was transferred to Wasp Networks Limited that subsequently transferred the sum of N170million to Xtract Energy Services Limited, a company that routinely made deposits into Dr. Saraki’s Access Bank US Dollar Domiciliary account.”
The Paris Club report concludes that a prima facie case of conspiracy to retain the proceeds of unlawful activities and money laundering, contrary to sections 15(3) and 18(9) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2004, could be established against the aforementioned suspects.
“Additionally, investigation into their personal accounts is ongoing,” it adds.