…deny paying N1bn to SSS
Singapore’s Olam Group has denied reports by the Nigerian media last week, alleging that its Nigerian outfits were involved in a multi-billion dollar foreign exchange fraud.
The Daily Nigerian and Prime Business Africa reported that Nigeria’s secret police was investigating the company’s units Olam Nigeria and Olam International and their associate firms for a more than $50 billion foreign exchange fraud.
“The company categorically denies the allegations in the Articles,” Olam said in a statement, and said it has directed its audit committee to review the matter.
Shares of the commodities trader were down 7.8% at S$1.180, as of 0627 GMT, after hitting a record low of S$1.150 earlier in the session.
The reports also alleged that some of the companies had “fictitious Nigerians as directors” and that authorities have “uncovered a chain of shell companies” linked to Olam, among others.
The company said that its unit Olam Nigeria has responded to requests for information by Nigerian authorities and will continue to cooperate.
Two Nigerian media outlet had published that Olam Nigeria Limited paid a huge bail bond of N1billion to secure the release of one of its directors, Prakash Kanth.
The payment according to the publications was made into a special recovery account operated by the State Security Service, SSS.
Other top executives of the company have reportedly fled the country in the wake of the arrest of the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele and his accomplices.
Insiders told our reporter that the SSS requested the humongous bail bond because of the gravity of the allegations against the company and the amount involved.
A payment slip seen by this newspaper showed that the money was paid into a Treasury Single Account, TSA, domiciled at Access Bank on Monday.
Another document also showed that one of Olam’s many subsidiaries, Micro Feed Nigeria Limited, Lagos, paid the money “in connection with the ongoing investigation of money laundering involving Prakash Kanth.”
Mr Kanth, who spent days in the SSS detention facility in Abuja, is Olam’s director of Corporate Affairs and Legal in Nigeria.
DAILY NIGERIAN had previously reported that the SSS opened probe into Olam’s multibillion dollar FX deals from 2015 to date.
The Nigerian secret police is also requesting from Olam evidence of payment of tax, corporate tax income, VAT, export proceeds and capital importation by the company and its subsidiaries during the period under review.
The SSS also requested from the company an analysis of all forex outflows from 2015 to date, showing commercial banks involved and the beneficiaries of the forex and the Bureau de Change, BDC license issued to Olam Nigeria Limited or any of its subsidiaries.
The service also requested records of the company’s expatriate quota; list of the approved expatriates and; particulars of serving and former MDs, CFOs and financial controllers of the company, including their names, addresses and countries of residence.
Although Olam had countered DAILY NIGERIAN story, denying wrongdoing in a statement on Monday, security sources and FX players said the company had questions to answer regarding forex fraud.