EFCC Probes $347 Billion Forex Scandal

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is currently investigating the allocation of at least $347 billion to companies in Nigeria between January 2014 and June 2023.
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Recent findings indicate that the anti-graft agency has expanded its forex allocation probe to include certain foreign firms operating within Nigeria.

Data from the Central Bank of Nigeria, analyzed by The Punch on Wednesday, discloses that both local and foreign companies in Nigeria received a minimum of $347.49 billion from the apex bank to fulfill their foreign exchange needs and obligations over the 10-year period.

The data, found in the sectoral utilization of the CBN's forex data, illustrates the allocation and utilization of foreign exchange across various sectors or industries of the economy.

The EFCC's investigation into forex allocations extends to the Dangote Group and 51 other companies under the previous Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele. The 52 companies are under scrutiny due to their significant share of the $347 billion during the specified timeframe.

Details about the exact amount received by these top 52 recipients of forex allocation under Emefiele remain undisclosed as of the current press time.

An analysis of the CBN's quarterly statistical bulletin reveals that, under the import category, various sectors such as industrial, food products, manufactured products, transport, agriculture, minerals, and oil have benefited from forex allocations. The industrial sector received the highest forex allocation at $69.71 billion during the reported period.

Further breakdown indicates that the Central Bank disbursed $65.99 billion in 2014, $44.6 billion in 2015, $25.5 billion in 2016, $27.64 billion in 2017, $40.81 billion in 2018, $43.99 billion in 2019, $28.24 billion in 2020, $16.4 billion between January 2021 and September 2021, $17.38 billion between October 2021 and March 2022, and $36.88 billion between April 2022 and June 2023.

Under the invisible category, financial services received the highest forex allocation at $136.54 billion. Other sectors in this category include business services, communication services, construction and related engineering services, distribution services, education services, environmental services, health-related and social services, tourism and travel-related services, recreational, cultural and sporting services, transport services, and other services not included elsewhere.

On January 4, 2023, EFCC operatives visited the headquarters of Dangote Industries Limited in Ikoyi, Lagos, as part of an ongoing investigation into the alleged misuse of foreign exchange allocations by Emefiele. Emefiele is currently under investigation by a Special Investigator, Jim Obazee, appointed by President Asiwaju Bola Tinubu in July 2023 to probe the Central Bank of Nigeria and related entities.

Reports indicate that some companies affected by the EFCC's directive have complied, while others requested time to gather the required documents. Following the raid on Dangote Group, the EFCC has reportedly written to over 85 entities, including corporate organizations and individuals, as part of an ongoing investigation into alleged fraudulent foreign exchange allocations under Emefiele.

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