N30tr scandal: Senate panel in secret session with CEOs
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.