. ICPC Re-Opens Case-File on Illegal Sale of FG N40bn Shares
. Escalates Probe into Dirty Sales of 15bn Ikoyi Properties…
By Hamilton Nwosa ( The New Diplomat Head of Business Desk)
Following determined efforts by President Muhammadu Buhari to rev up national revenue while advancing his administration’s war against corruption, the Presidency is said to have beamed fresh light into alleged crooked sales of about N40bn worth of Federal Government shares in WAMCO by the then Management team of Bank of Industry(BOI) led Mr Rasheed Olaoluwa, the then Managing Director.
The New Diplomat checks reveal that 127 million units of Federal Government Shares in WAMCO valued at about N40bn which were held in trust on behalf of the Federal Government were hurriedly sold off in controversial and questionable circumstances, a few days after President Buhari assumed office on May 29, 2015 without a Board approval as required by Law and due process. Sources confided in The New Diplomat that the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) has re-opened the case-file thus escalating investigations into the subject matter just as Presidency big wigs are asking serious questions about the alleged questionable transactions. This has also raised issues bordering on reputational crisis.
Investigations reveal that the reported illegal sales which were said to have been executed exactly on June 15, 2015, a few days before Buhari issued a presidential directive, dissolving all Federal Boards, Agencies and Parastatals with the exception of statutory ones as prescribed by Law, did not follow due process. Sources hinted that there was no approval from the approving authority. The approving authority is the Board of Directors of BOI with representatives drawn from the Ministry of Trade and Investment, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Private Sector, etc. In the absence of a Board, the Supervisory, which is Ministry of Trade and Investment is said to be vested with the requisite power, going by BOI’s extant institutional guidelines, to approve such sales. Again, sources revealed that this was never followed by Mr Rasheed Olaoluwa and his team!
Equally shocking to top Presidency Officials, according to findings by The New Diplomat, was the controversial sale of choice properties belonging to BOI without due process in choice locations in Lagos, including Ikoyi. An insider told The New Diplomat: “ No adverts were placed for the illegal sales of the FG properties located at NO 21 (A and B) Mekunwen Road, Ikoyi which was purportedly bought by City Matters International and FG Properties located at 952 and 953 Idejo Street, Victoria Island which were bought allegedly by Lords Flavour Nigeria Ltd… As I speak to you, the former MD is being investigated and interrogated by ICPC on these matters. They never knew that a government like that of President Buhari would come into Office and begin to ask questions why certain things were not done properly in accordance with the Law and in line with due process…These properties that were purportedly sold off clandestinely are worth over N15bn going by current market valuation.”
Sources at the Presidency told The New Diplomat that investigators are currently asking Olaoluwa to provide answers to questions such as: Who authorized the sale? Why was a Board Approval not obtained? Why the hurried sale of the shares shortly after President Buhari assumed Office? Who bought the N40bn worth of FG Shares in WAMCO, a commonwealth of all Nigerians, merely held in trust by BOI? Who benefited from the brokerage fees estimated at roughly about N800M? Who bought the Ikoyi and Victoria Island properties belonging to BOI? Why were these sales not advertised in national dailies? Why was due process not followed for their transactions?
Sources hinted that the Financial Investigations Unit (FIU) of the ICPC is also probing into why due process was not followed by advertising the sales in national newspapers and obtaining a documented Board approval duly accompanied with detailed minutes of Board meetings. The New Diplomat investigations also tracked an internal memo from the Inspectorate and Control Division written by one Mr Augustine Okoh, raising serious queries about the sale of the N40bn worth of FG shares in WAMCO without a Board approval as required. The query which raised a red flag in the Financial Institution was quite revealing. He wrote: ‘’ We saw the management approval to sell off some equities. However, we did not see the Board approval to sell off all the shares …” It would be recalled that ICPC had quizzed Mr Olaoluwa, the former MD of BOI earlier in 2016 when it reportedly commenced investigations into these transactions.