Reps to summon FIRS, fault banks as $30bn revenue investigation begins

The Joint Committee on Finance, Banking, and Currency of the United States House of Representatives has launched an investigation into $30 billion in annual leakages in the transfer of funds to execute international contracts and interbank transactions, among other things.

The committee, co-chaired by Messrs. James Faleke and Victor Nwokolo, quizzed officials from Citibank and other financial institutions during its first investigative session on Monday.

Faleke stated in his opening remarks that on March 5, 2020, the House resolved to hold an inquiry hearing on revenue leakages exceeding $30 billion.

Faleke stated that the investigation was required due to rising issues in the financial management of all of Nigeria’s God-given wealth.

He stressed the need to put an end to or, at best, minimise all attributable infractions that had been instruments in the hands of some stakeholders in bringing economic woes to the country and its people.

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He listed the infractions to include lifting of some crude oil and gas by oil exploration companies, concealment and non-disclosure of some crude oil liftings, overnight and fictitious disappearance of naira proceeds of foreign inflows and multiple foreign exchange allocations to holders of foreign inflow Certificates of Capital Importation.

The committee grilled the representative of Citibank, Ngozi Omoke, over alleged non-remittance of funds due to the Federation Account.

The committee also picked holes in the presentation made by the representative of Fidelity Bank, Hassan Imam.

Among numerous others, Faleke said the committee discovered that Citibank had Form A transfer by customers through their bank accounts that were not filed with the CBN and committee, with no evidence of withholding tax amounting to $3, 107, 398, 073.

The committee also disagreed with the bank’s position on advertisement, saying it was a taxable item.

Faleke, therefore, directed the bank to make available all the receipts of various transactions.

The committee also directed its clerk to write to the Federal Inland Revenue Services to appear before it to confirm the remittances.

Omoke, while responding to the allegations, said the bank conducted its activities within the provisions of the Foreign Exchange Monitoring and Miscellaneous Provision Act.

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