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My traducer, Financial Reporting Council, got N500million from CBN, Sanusi says

Central Bank Governor, Lamido Sanusi

The Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria [FRCN], whose report and recommendations President Goodluck Jonathan relied upon to suspend the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Lamido Sanusi, is a beneficiary of the CBN “intervention” spendings, the suspended CBN chief has said.

The FRCN had, in a 13-page report, following its review of the audited financial statement of the CBN for 2012, made allegations of financial impropriety against the CBN under Mr. Sanusi.

Based on the report, President Jonathan, in suspending Mr. Sanusi from office, expressed his government’s loss of confidence in the bank chief’s ability to lead the Central Bank to achieve its mandate as enshrined in the CBN Act.

But Mr. Sanusi, in a response to the FRCN report, described the allegations against the CBN under his leadership as not only “false and unfounded”, but also “malicious and fabricated.”

He dismissed the entire report as full of “misconceptions, misrepresentations and erroneous inferences” that could have been cleared if the FRCN was not in a hurry to “mislead the president into believing that the management of the Central Bank was guilty of misconduct and recklessness.”

The embattled CBN governor expressed surprise that the management of FRCN could make such damning allegations when, indeed, it was one of the prime beneficiaries of the benevolence of the CBN.

Mr. Sanusi said that apart from the N220 million paid directly by the CBN to the Council, the banking sector, through the Banker’s Committee, also mobilised and paid another N280 million, totaling N500 million, to the FRCN, for the construction of its International Financial Reporting Standards, Academy.

It is not clear how these funds, which did not reflect in the Council’s budget and reports, were spent.

PREMIUM TIMES’ investigations revealed that details of these financial donations were not disclosed by the FRCN in any of his statement of accounts or annual reports.

A review of the 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 federal budgets also revealed that there was no budgetary appropriation for the IFRS Academy project and the donations received for the project were not reflected.

Although a brochure promoting a N2 billion Fund Raising Dinner to mobilize funding for the IFRS Academy is published on the FRC’s website, the list of donors and their donations during the event were conspicuously missing.

The event, organised by the former Nigerian Accounting Standards Board, NASB (which eventually metamorphosed to the FRCN) in Abuja on May 31, 2011, merely listed items for sponsorship and the amounts needed as well as the roll of honour of individuals, groups and corporate organisations invited for the event.

Key invitees on the fund raiser included the CBN; the World Bank; Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC; Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation, NDIC; Nigeria Investment Commission, NIPC; Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC; Pension Commission, PENCOM; Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC; Nigeria Export Promotion Council, NEPC; Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC; and Federal Inland Revenue Commission, FIRS.

Other invitees included heads of professional groups and institutions, members of the National Assembly, federal ministries, departments and agencies as well as various industry chieftains.

It is not clear why the FRCN, in the spirit of transparency and accountability, refused to highlight in its report the N500 million it collected from the CBN for the project as well as other donations.

Attempts by PREMIUM TIMES to contact the Executive Secretary of the Council, Jim Obazee, for clarification, were unsuccessful. Several calls to the telephone lines listed on the council’s website were not answered.

At the Council’s Abuja office at 15 Ajesa Street, Wuse 2, an official, who gave his name as Nasiru, said he was not authorized to comment on the issue.

He also declined to provide contact details for the executive secretary, who was not in the office when our reporter visited. He, however, promised to get into touch with Mr. Obazee to inform him of the reporter’s enquiry.

Although he promised to call back with the executive secretary’s response, he is yet to do so about 48 hours later.

Mr. Sanusi said the President Jonathan and the CBN board were aware and approved most of the interventionist spendings his bank made during his tenure.

“All of these requests were duly submitted to the CBN Board of Directors and were duly approved,” Mr. Sanusi said. “The Federal Government of Nigeria has been aware, supported and encouraged the CBN intervention projects, in recognition of their positive contribution to development. It is also important to emphasise that the grants under the Intervention Program were duly budgeted for, and made on a limited and selected basis.”

He said having provided detailed explanations, backed by verifiable documents, the President should “adhere to his policy of fairness and justice, and apply the same rationale and rigour to other agencies of the Federal Government that have had serious allegations and queries levied against them, and prevail on them to provide responses and explanations with the same level of clarity and transparency.”

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