N30tr scan­dal: Se­nate panel in se­cret ses­sion with CEOs

Daily Trust - - NEWS - By Is­mail Mu­dashir

A Se­nate panel prob­ing the N30tril­lion rev­enue leak­ages in Forex and the en­tire im­port and ex­port value chain be­tween 2006 and 2016 yes­ter­day grilled of­fi­cials of 11 firms in a close ses­sion that lasted over two hours.

In the last one week, the Joint Com­mit­tee on Cus­toms, Ex­cise and Tar­iff and Ma­rine Trans­port, chaired by Se­na­tor Hope Uzod­inma has been hold­ing an in­ves­tiga­tive hear­ing pub­licly un­til yes­ter­day.

The 11 firms namely: Dana Group, China Ex­port, Emel Group, Hal­libur­ton, Bho­j­son Plc, Bharat Ven­tures Ltd, Bua In­ter­na­tional Ltd, Fries­land Camp­ina, Bou­los Group, CFAO Group and Bri­tish Amer­i­can To­bacco Com­pany, were last week threat­ened with war­rant of ar­rest over their fail­ure to ap­pear be­fore the com­mit­tee.

Jour­nal­ists and oth­ers ob­servers at the venue of the in­ves­tiga­tive hear­ing, were told to leave as the panel con­ducted the se­cret ses­sion.

Ad­dress­ing news­men, Se­na­tor Uzondima said they de­cided to hold the ses­sion se­cretly to avoid cre­at­ing un­nec­es­sary panic in the sys­tem.

“The rea­son is that some of the com­pa­nies ap­proached the com­mit­tee and have ex­pressed their will­ing­ness to sup­port our in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­cause the process of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion may re­quire them re­veal­ing some of their trade se­crets.

“In other not to breach the se­crecy that has to do with their busi­ness mod­ules, we agreed to their terms be­cause our in­ter­est is to achieve re­sult. Some of the com­pa­nies that ap­peared be­fore us to­day have also com­mit­ted to our suc­cess by way of mak­ing some ad­mis­sions here and there,” he said.

He added that: “Some of the com­pa­nies are pub­lic quoted com­pa­nies. So our in­ter­est is to con­front them with the in­frac­tions we iden­ti­fied that their com­pa­nies are in­volved in and to re­solve is­sues go­ing for­ward to en­sure govern­ment col­lects nec­es­sary rev­enues that have not been col­lected be­fore this time and then block the ar­eas of leak­ages in such a man­ner that our na­tional in­ter­est will be pro­tected.”

He said the Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cers, who ap­peared be­fore the panel were among those that were threat­ened with war­rant of ar­rest.

“Ini­tially some of th­ese agen­cies of govern­ment and some pri­vate com­pa­nies were re­luc­tant in at­tend­ing or hon­our­ing se­nate in­vi­ta­tion. With the threat and the sup­port of the po­lice, they have all re­sponded,” he said.

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