The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has said that five top officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria and 16 others are to be arraigned for alleged complicity in an N8bn currency fraud on Tuesday (tomorrow).
The Head of Media and Publicity of the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, said in an electronic mail on Sunday that the suspects were to be arraigned for circulating defaced and mutilated currency notes at the Federal High Court, Ibadan, Oyo State on June 2 (tomorrow).
Uwujaren said that the 16 others expected to be arraigned alongside the CBN bigwigs were members of staff of various commercial banks in the country.
He said that the suspects would be arraigned on a five count charge at the high court.
The EFCC spokesperson said that all the suspects now in the agency’s custody connived to recycle the defaced and mutilated currencies they were asked to destroy by substituting the notes with newspapers cuttings in Naira note sizes.
Uwujaren said that the operatives of the commission got wind of the deal following a petition that N6.5bn was recycled by a syndicate involving top officials of the CBN in Ibadan, Oyo State.
He said, “The Economic and Financial Crime Commission has concluded arrangement to arraign in court, five top executives of the Central Bank of Nigeria, implicated in a mega scam involving the theft and recirculation of defaced and mutilated currencies.
“The suspects drawn from various business units of the apex bank are to be docked by the anti-graft agency before a Federal High Court sitting in Ibadan, Oyo State, from Tuesday, June 2, 2015 to Thursday June 4, 2015. The remaining 16 suspects are drawn from various commercial banks who were found to have conspired with the CBN executives to swing the heist.
“All the suspects who are currently in the custody of the EFCC are now ruing the day they literally allowed greed and craze for materialism to becloud their sense of judgment and responsibility, when they elected to help themselves to tonnes of defaced Naira notes.
“Instead of carrying out the statutory instruction to destroy the currency, they substituted it with newspapers neatly cut to Naira sizes and proceeded to recycle the defaced and mutilated currency.”
“The fraud is partly to blame for the failure of government monetary policy over the years as currency mop up exercises by the apex bank failed to check the inflationary pressure on the economy.
“The lid on the scam which is widely suspected to have gone on unchecked for years, was blown on November 3, 2014 via a petition to the EFCC alleging that over N6,575,549,370.00 was cornered and discreetly recycled by light fingered top executives of the CBN at the Ibadan branch.”
It was stated that the suspects were members of the CBN Briquetting Panel entrusted with the responsibility of seeing to the destruction of ‘counted and audited dry notes’ returned to the CBN by depositor banks such as Zenith Bank, FCMB, Wema Bank, Access Bank, First Bank, Skye Bank, Ecobank and Sterling Bank
He added that a member of the panel discovered that one of the boxes which were supposed to be filled with 20 bundles of old, mutilated dry N1,000 notes contained newspaper cuttings in Naira sizes on September 8, 2014.
He said that another fraud to the tune of N5bn was uncovered on September 22, 2014 as N500 notes to the tune of N5bn meant for destruction were replaced with newspaper cuttings.
Uwujaren said that the fraud could not be covered as a member of the Briquetting Panel of the CBN from Osogbo raised the alarm about the illicit deal.
The member who called attention to the alleged fraud was said to have confronted the Head of the panel and other members but was not satisfied by their response.
They were said to have omitted the discovery from her report on the exercise.