Reps told how $300m NNPC fund was kept in Polaris Bank

The House of Representatives Ad hoc committee investigating the status and usage of recovered looted public funds and properties by federal government agencies, has been briefed on how $300 million belonging to the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was kept unattended in Polaris Bank since 2012.

Angered by the development, the committee on Thursday demanded from the bank, details of interest the fund may have generated over the years.

Acting Managing Director of the bank, Mr. Innocent Ike, told the committee that contrary to the perceived secrecy surrounding the said account, the money was not hidden but kept through appropriate procedures by the NNPC.

But former prosecutor for the disbanded Special Presidential Investigative Panel (SPIP) on the recovery of government assets, Tosin Ojaomo insisted before the committee that the said money was hidden, and not deposited as posited by Polaris Bank.

“The bank did not disclose anything, it secretly kept the money. It was when the presidential panel got wind of the hidden money that it arrested the managers of the bank, interrogated them and started prosecuting them that they admitted that the money was with them”, he said.

Ike in further explanations also told the panel that being operated as a current account, the fund did not generate any interest as accounts in that category do not yield interests, adding that the money has all been paid to NNPC in tranches, forcing the committee to demand for documentary evidence to back up his claims.

Documents made available to the committee had suggested that about $32 million of the total sum was yet unaccounted for; even the acting MD denied allegations that the money was dormant in the account.

According to him, his bank lent out the money to some companies in the oil and gas sector, and some others in power sector operators in what he described as a measure towards boosting the nation’s economy.

Reaching a unanimous resolution, chairman of the panel, Hon Adejoro Adeogun adjourned the session to another date, for Polaris Bank to tender documented evidence of its total payment of the said money to the NNPC.