Just In: Sanusi could land in trouble as US firm uncovers huge stolen funds

Sanusi was Central Bank Governor at the time.

Friday, May 28, 2021

/ by National Pivot

Former CBN Governor and dethroned Emir of Kano State, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, may land in trouble following a recent disclosure by a US based asset recovery firm, Forensic Assets Investigation and Recovery Services LLC (FAIR), saying it has uncovered $69 billion (about N28.3tn) in illegal oil deals by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) stuck in American banks.

The firm said the funds were believed to have been siphoned from undeclared crude oil sales under the Goodluck Jonathan administration allegedly by the NNPC officials and their collaborators in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan was enmeshed in several allegations of corruption, with his then Minister of Petroleum Resources, and the first female President of OPEC, Diezani Alison-Madueke, accused of stealing billions of dollars from the nation's treasury, at a time Sanusi Lamido was in charge of the CBN.

Sanusi however, may feel vindicated having previously claimed that $20 billion was missing from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) under Alison-Madueke's management. Although a Forensic audit by the Jonathan administration proved otherwise. 

The latest revelation by FAIR nevertheless, will no doubt, raise dusts, as those the US firm said played key roles in the diversion of such funds, will once again be brought to the limelight.

According to the American firm, the funds are stuck in banks based in Texas. The firm said it could recover all the identified funds if Nigeria agreed to pay its expenses and compensation.

FAIR disclosed this in a confidential memo forwarded to the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for Recovery of Public Property (SPIP), The Punch reported Friday.

Nine billion dollars of the total sum was allegedly traced to a bank account linked to late National Security Adviser (NSA), General Andrew Azazi, who died in a plane crash alongside the Governor of Kaduna State, Patrick Yakowa, in 2012.

FAIR’s memo was said to have informed a March 18, 2019 letter written by former SPIP Chairman, Okon Obono-Obla to President Muhammadu Buhari to seek his approval to authorise FAIR to commence the recovery of the funds.

“Mr President, we intend to work together with the Americans in order to secure the recovery of the definite $9bn within 3-5 months they stated and to engage them to see and recover the larger part of the estimated $60bn-$80bn stolen from Nigeria during the oil boom. Also, to engage the NNPC and the CBN in the overall recovery of those funds in the United States.

“Our prayers to the President are: To approve the engagement of the American company to recover the funds and assets in the US and to approve the support of the visiting American firm to integrate software technology in the CBN in order to trace fraud funds.

“To approve the presence of interface offices of the Special Presidential Investigation Panel in NNPC and the CBN. Your Excellency, the immediate recovery of the identified $9bn within the stated timeframe of 3-5 months will totally eliminate borrowing to fund the 2018 budget deficit and sustain the 2019 budget,” the letter was said to have read in part.

However, the matter was said to have been abandoned after President Buhari removed Obono-Obla and directed the Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Dayo Apata, to take over the affairs of the SPIP.

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