Governor diverts N500m refund to repay his loan
Detectives have recovered N500million reportedly diverted by a governor from the London-Paris Club loan refund.
It was allegedl that the governor diverted the N500million (out of his state’s share of the N19b first tranche) to a mortgage bank but the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) tracked and secured the cash.
Besides, two firms have refunded N220million of the N3.5billion traced to some aides of Senate President Bukola Saraki.
But the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) insists it was not within its purview to determine how Melrose General Services Limited spent its share of the N3.5billion consultancy fees. The company yesterday said it was not involved in any N3.5billion scandal.
It said it executed the consultancy awarded it in line with global best practice.
EFCC traced N2.2billion payment to another consultant, which allegedly gave the yet unnamed governor N500million.
The governor directed that the cash should be transferred to a mortgage bank where he was indebted to the tune of N800million.
The governor used the “cash-at-hand” to defray his debts with a waiver by the mortgage company.
A source close to the investigation said: “Of the N19billion, we discovered that a consultant brought by the North-West governor was paid N2.2billion. From the N2.2billion, the governor got N500million.
“He then instructed that the N500million be transferred to the mortgage bank where he had borrowed money to buy two properties in 2013 and was unable to pay. The debts accumulated to N800million but with N500million cash-at-hand, the governor renegotiated the debts and used the cash to defray his liabilities.”
According to the source, the mortgage bank decided to refund the N500million to the EFCC. “We have all the evidence of the recovery in our records,” he said.
The two companies which refunded about N220million out of the N3.5billion consultancy fees in which some aides of the Senate President were implicated, are Wasp Networks and Thebe Wellness Services.
Pressmen stumbled on a document about the investigation. It states: “That Mr. Bosun Ottun, the Managing director of Xtract Energy Services, a company that deals in forex trading confirmed that Wasp Networks Limited transferred N170, 000,000 on the 16th January 2017 to Xtract Energy Services Limited’s FCMB account for the purchase of $350,000, which he later transferred into Wasp Networks Stanbic IBTC US dollar domiciliary account.
“That Wasp Networks has returned to the EFCC the sum of N200million paid to the company by Mr. Robert Mbonu of Melrose General Services.
“That Mr. Robert Mbonu through Melrose General Services Company paid N20million to Thebe Wellness Services.
“That Mr. Richardson A. Ajayi, the Managing Director of Thebe Wellness Services confirmed that N20million from Melrose General Services Company was a loan from Mr. Robert Mbonu, which was to be used as an investment in Thebe Wellness Services.”
On the jewellry which cost about N92, 685,000($183,000 then) of the N3.5billion refund, the EFCC said the former Executive Director of Heritage Bank, Mr. Robert Mbonu, could not say the exact date the items will be delivered.
The document added: “That Mr. Robert Mbonu, through Melrose General Services Company Limited Access Bank account transferred N92, 685,000 to Acarast Communication Limited in exchange for $183,000 USD, which was later transferred to Bhaskar Devji Jewellers in Dubai for purchase of jewellery.
“That Mr. Robert Mbonu has not taken delivery of the jewellery and couldn’t provide a date when the jewellery he paid for would be delivered.”
But, the NGF yesterday said it had no business with how Melrose spent the N3.5billion consultancy fees it paid to the company.
It, however, confirmed that the company was one of its consultants on the London-Paris Club loan refund.