Monday 15 July 2019

‘Why we’ve not paid whistleblower who exposed secret $223m NNPC account’

The Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation has explained its reason for not

paying a whistleblower (name withheld) his N1.8bn commission after he exposed an account with $223m (N80.2bn).

SUNDAY PUNCH had reported in May that the Federal Government had refused to pay a whistleblower who drew the attention of the government to a secret account titled, ‘NNPC Brass LNG INV. Fund’ with number 1750027157 domiciled in Skye Bank (now Polaris Bank) and operating in contravention of the Treasury Single Account.

It was learnt that following the information given by the whistleblower, the Special Investigation Panel invited the management of Polaris Bank where it was agreed that the funds would be transferred to the Central Bank of Nigeria in instalments.

Following the refusal of the government to pay him his commission over a year after signing a bond with the AGF, the whistleblower filed a suit vide a writ of summons dated June 7, 2019, which was signed and sealed by his lawyer, Aliyu Alemu.

However, in a letter written in response to the suit, the Head, Asset Recovery and Management Unit at the AGF’s office, Ladidi Mohammed, asked the whistleblower to be patient as he would only be paid after all the funds had recovered.

In the letter with reference number HAGF/ARMU/WBEMC/2018/I, dated July 9, 2019, the AGF stated that the recovery was still at the first step.

The letter read in part, “You may wish to be further informed that the process for recovery by the Office of the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice are in the following order: submission of information by whistleblower or recovery agent; forensic investigation, physical/onsite investigation, enforcement and recovery.

“It is imperative to note that the recovery is at the first stage. Thus, the request for payment is premature as no fund has been recovered yet.”

It was learnt that contrary to the claims of the AGF that no funds had been recovered, about $49m had been transferred to CBN while about $178m was still in the coffers of Polaris Bank.

Sources told SUNDAY PUNCH that transferring all the funds in one fell swoop could adversely affect Polaris Bank which was only recently given an intervention by the CBN.

Also, a search through the bond entered into the whistleblower never stated that all the money must be recovered in full before commission would be paid.

Section E of the bond only stated, “The whistleblower shall by virtue of the disclosure made be entitled to a reward based on the quantum of funds or monetary value of assets recovered by the FGN as a result of such disclosed information.”

A source close to the whistleblower said the Federal Government ought to have paid some commission to the whistleblower based on the funds recovered so far.

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