$136m: Keystone Bank comes out clean, opens up on Malami directives

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Keystone Bank has revealed how it was ordered to convert part of the $136 million belonging to the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to Naira equivalent by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.

The bank made this revelation during a hearing of the Ad-hoc Committee on Assessment and Status of all recovered loots, Movable and Immovable Assets, covering loots and assets from 2002 to 2020 by agencies of the federal government.

Malami, who had established that a total of $136,676,600.51 was to be paid to NNPC, directed that 96 million be paid in dollars, while 40 million should be paid in naira.

“Out of this entire amount, we paid $96 million in dollars and we paid the equivalent of $40 million in naira,” according to Lawal Ahmed, an Executive Director in charge of the North and Public Sector Directorate at Keystone Bank, as he also said that Mr. Malami was the person who recommended the exchange rate of N395 to a dollar.

When the chairman of the committee, Adejoro Adeogun, queried why funds meant for Brass LNG Investment account was remitted in a different account, Mr Ahmed stated that the bank had remitted all funds belonging to the NNPC, saying that “We were paying into the Brass LNG’s NNPC account in the TSA and at the time the Attorney-General gave the directive, he instructed that the funds be credited to the FGN Assets Recovery Account”.

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According to Adeogun, while presenting a document to Mr Ahmed, explained that the figures in the transactions differ from the one obtained from the Central Bank of Nigeria, but the bank representative argued that “The first item, which is N12,421,794,504.88 is the equivalent of $40m at N305, which was directed to the FGN Assets Recovery Account.

“There were two accounts: Brass LNG and OML 40. At the time this AGF letter was written, I believe that we had not concluded payment yet. The final payments were made thereafter in tranches,” Mr Ahmed added.

Criticizing Abubakar Malami, a member of the committee, Olanrewaju Edun, questioned why he would issue such directives, suggesting that the AGF must be subjected to questioning.

“Out of the $40m that you claimed, the Attorney-General gave you a letter. As far as I am concerned, I don’t know why you have to take a letter from the Attorney-General, as this was Nigeria’s money owned by the three tiers of government. We can take you up on that.

“I don’t know why the Attorney-General had to issue a letter that something that was transacted in dollars should be paid in naira rate when you have differential rates in Nigeria,” he added.

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