Senate to publish big businesses caught in N30-trillion import, export scam

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The Senate is ready to publish names of companies indicted in an investigation into a N30-trillion revenue scam in Nigeria’s import and export sector.
Chairman of the Joint Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariff and Marine Transport Hope Uzodinma made this known in an interview with journalists on Sunday.
He said the committee has completed its first batch of investigation involving over 60 companies, and it would publish names of companies involved in the shenanigans leading to loss of government revenue.
“We got up to the point that even the companies themselves have seen that they are culpable and that is why we want to publish the names and hand them over to EFCC and Customs,” he said.
The names to be published would contain details of how much of recoverable government revenue was with each of the companies.
The indicted companies—for money laundering and other financial crimes—will then be referred to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for prosecution and recovery of the monies.
Those bothering on smuggling and import infractions would be referred to the Nigeria Customs Service for recovery of such revenues and possibly blacklisting.
“The reason for the delay in publishing the names all the while is to establish culpability against the companies,’ he said.
“Now through various reconciliations, it has been established and we are no longer in doubt, including the companies that are involved, that these things are in existence and that they are culpable.
“We have presented the interim report which detailed how much we have recovered so far and the Senate approved it in plenary, while an extension was given to us to do the final reconciliation.
“We do not want emphasis to continue to be on how much we have recovered even though it is contained in the report. We want those companies found culpable to go to government and make payments,” he said.
The chairman further said that “some of the companies have started paying while others have not. None of them have fully paid what we have established against them.
“Since they have started paying, we will now transfer the matter to the Customs, who will now do a recovery schedule with the companies that are willing to pay what is due to government.
“By the time the names are published, Nigerians and the federal government will know which company is owing what and the relevant agencies will go after them to recover the money.’’
The committee would commence the second batch of investigation after some oversight visits to establish culpability.
The joint committee was mandated by the Senate to carry out investigation into alleged N30 trillion revenue leakages in foreign exchange and the entire import and export value chain between 2006 and 2017.
It was mandated to identify leakages and irregularities in the system and come up with recommendations that would block further leakages and strengthen the revenue drive of the Nigeria Customs Service.
In an interim report presented to the Senate on October 18, the committee said it had recovered N140 billion.
The report indicated that some collection banks had made remittances to the Central Bank of Nigeria to the tune of N128 billion with evidence of payment received by the committee.
It further indicated that some of the 60 companies made voluntary payment of over N12 billion to government based on internal self-audit after receiving documented evidence of culpability from the committee.

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