Senator Dino Melaye has accused the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) of unlawfully operating an account for one of its Joint Venture Companies partnership with Keystone Bank with a current balance of $137 million.
“A company named Brass LNG Limited, was registered for the JVC with the federal government owning 50 per cent controlling shares, with some Italians, Belgians and French firms as shareholders,” he said.
Melaye while raising a point of order at plenary yesterday, noted that any account for JVCs are statutorily required to be domiciled at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
“But in this case, that was not what happened. In private, the account was opened with Keystone Bank, this account has no BVN and there has been periodic withdrawals from it. The last withdrawal from the account was to the tune of $4million. As I speak to you, the balance of that account as of today is $137million,” Melaye alleged. He described the development as colossal and monumental corruption in the NNPC.
“While some individuals and government appointees will continue to steal, we have decided to continue to expose corruption in public life,” Melaye said.
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In line with legislative practice, Melaye sought the leave of the Senate to present the matter as a motion on the next legislative day.
But Keystone Bank has denied having in its custody any illegally hidden money belonging to the federal ggovernment or any of its agencies.
A statement by the General Counsel and Company Secretary, Dr. Michael Agamah, said: “We wish to state categorically that Keystone Bank Limited has never illegally hidden or withdrawn any amount of money belonging to the federal government or any of its agencies.
“Details of all federal government funds in custody of Keystone Bank had always been fully disclosed to all relevant federal government agencies and at no time did Keystone Bank collude or conspire with any official of the federal government to disobey the federal government directives on the TSA.”
The statement also added: “The lender informed its stakeholders that it would not conduct itself in breach of the laws or policies of the government, including the TSA policy and had since been engaging with relevant agencies to remit all funds in the bank’s custody.”